GEON Newsletter : February 2007
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An Exciting New Phase for The Paleointegration Project (PIP)


The GEON PaleoIntegration Project (PIP) now provides extensive fossil and sedimentary rock databases that are searchable from the portal. This greatly facilitates studies of faunal and floral diversity, biogeography and climate through geologic time.  The previous set of interoperable PIP databases (sedimentary rock types, plants, and dinosaurs) was developed by Dr. Allister Rees and his team at the University of Arizona. The system is designed to ensure fast data retrieval for extensive data as well as multiple simultaneous searches (e.g. in a classroom environment). Text- and map-based searches enable results to be downloaded for further detailed analyses, or else viewed on integrated paleogeographic maps.

The PaleoIntegration Project is proving useful to researchers, teachers and students interested in learning about the past life, geography and climate of our planet.  Anyone can now access data and tools that were only available previously to specialists, thus facilitating geoscience discovery by removing many of the IT barriers. It’s an ambitious community-driven project that we envisage continuing to develop, with the addition of new datasets, tools and services.  (Click here for the full article on the PIP)


StrataPlot – A Graphic Correlation Tool Now Available for Download in GEON

startaplot imageStrataPlot, a stand-alone Windows-based application that employs the graphic correlation procedure first described by Shaw (1964), and modified by GEON PI Dr. Emil Platon (Energy and Geosciences Institute, University of Utah) can now be downloaded from The primary output of this software is a graph that displays the first and last stratigraphic occurrences of fossil species that are common between an analyzed section and a composite-stratigraphical database representing composite stratigraphic ranges from hundreds or thousands of individual localities. When a new section is analyzed, its datums are graphed against a selected composite standard. A successful interpretation results in the analyzed section becoming part of the composite standard against which future sections will be calibrated. StrataPlot is a dynamic system that continually refines its composite standards as the user adds more stratigraphic information. Further information regarding this software and its use is available at the above URL, or by contacting Dr. Emil Platon at


SYNSEIS Computational Capabilities Upgraded

GEON’s grid enabled computational tool, SYNSEIS (SYNthetic SEISmogram) has been upgraded to include another powerful computing environment, SDSC’s new Blue Gene machine ( The Blue Gene enables very large jobs to be computed using its more than 6000 cpus. Computational runs are being planned that will require 3,720 and 6,144 processors for a single run. Using these resources, it will be possible to run earthquake simulations with very fine model grids of up to 13.5 billion cells.


GEON Holds 2nd Usability Workshop

A second GEON Usability Workshop was held on February 8 and 9 in Boulder, CO, following the first such workshop which was held in April 2006. The workshop featured intensive engagement with a small group (~9) of users who worked through various exercises using the GEON website and portal. Many of the recommendations implemented after the first workshop were tested during this workshop. Early analysis of the information received from this workshop suggests that the new design has greatly improved the users’ understanding of the GEON system and its capabilities. The process of interface design, informed and confirmed by usability testing, is proving to be effective in keeping users and their work practices in focus as GEON continues to integrate geoscience data using information technology. The 2nd usability workshop was hosted by DLESE and co-facilitated by Lynne Davis (UCAR) and Dogan Seber (SDSC).


Student Observing GEON Completes Related Ph.D.

David Ribes has completed his Ph.D. in Sociology and Science Technology Studies based on three years of participatory ethnography with GEON in its formative years. His dissertation is entitled ‘Universal Informatics: Building Cyberinfrastructure, Interoperating the Geosciences’ and focuses on the practical work that was required to get an ‘umbrella information infrastructure’ off the ground. In his thesis, he shows how GEON is simultaneously building a scientific institution, a new organizational form for interdisciplinary collaboration, and a technology platform.

Through David’s research GEON has also become part of a comparative study of cyberinfrastructure projects, including Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER), WATERS (formerly CLEANER) and Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD). For more information and links to early publications see

David is now a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Michigan, School of Information where he continues his comparative work focusing on LEAD and WATERS. He can be contacted at


GEON IDV Makes Its Way to GoogleEarth Blog

Yellowstone Park Geophysics (Earthquakes and tomography by Univ. Utah; topography from USGS; geology map image provided by Robert L. Christiansen)

The GEON IDV was suggested as a good alternative (to GoogleEarth) for visualizing sub-surface data in a virtual globe format on the GoogleEarth (GE) blog during February. The initial GE blog was authored by Frank Taylor - who had visited with GEON team member Chris Crosby at AGU in December 2006 - and was recommending the GEON IDV for sub-surface renderings. "One shortcoming of GE is its ability to render in 3D terrain below sea-level or below the ground. This capability was the most-requested feature understandably at the American Geophysical Union in December. Until GE gets this capability, I have been told that a free software product called GEON IDV offers globe based visualization of many geoscience datasets. It's not a full virtual globe, but it is reportedly helpful in offering similar renderings." (

It's always satisfying to learn that GEON's technologies are being used by the community, and having the GEON IDV mentioned on the GE blog should result in broader exposure and usage.


GEON LiDAR Workflow Presented

workflow imageEfrat Jaeger, SDSC developer, presented the GEON workflow-based three tier architecture for LiDAR processing and analysis at the Seventh Biennial Ptolemy Miniconference on February 13, 2007 at the University of California, Berkeley. The Ptolemy project studies modeling, simulation, and design of concurrent, real-time, embedded systems.

The Kepler community, a cross-project collaboration that includes GEON, SEEK and the Scientific Data Management Projects, was invited to present at this meeting. Kepler is working to develop open source tools for Scientific Workflows and is currently based on the Ptolemy II system for heterogeneous concurrent modeling and design. Jaeger’s poster presentation was received with enthusiasm by the community. The generic nature of the approach was inspiring for the Kepler and Ptolemy communities to adopt the architecture for running workflows behind portal environments.


Geoinformatics 2007 meeting registration is now open! Last year's Geoinformatics 2006 meeting was a tremendous success and the organization for the upcoming Geoinformatics 2007 is well under way. This year's meeting will be held at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Technology, at the University of California, San Diego campus on May 17 & 18. This conference will provide a national forum for researchers and educators from the geosciences, geographic information systems and information technology/computer science to present new data, data analysis or modeling techniques, visualization schemes, or technologies as they relate to developing the cyberinfrastructure for the Geosciences.

Further information, as well as online registration and abstract submission, may be found at The abstract submission deadline is April 3, 2007.

The Conference is hosted by the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, University of California, San Diego. Sponsors include the Geological Society of America (Geoinformatics Division), United States Geological Survey, National Science Foundation, California Institute for Telecommunications and Technology, San Diego Supercomputer Center, and the British Geological Survey.


Short Course on LiDAR to be offered at the GSA 2007 meeting in Denver

At the upcoming Geological Society of America meeting, GEON team members Ramon Arrowsmith and Chris Crosby along with David Phillips of UNAVCO will host a short course in LiDAR data processing. This course will be held on Saturday, October 27th, from 9-5 p.m. Participants in this course will learn about LiDAR technology, access to publicly available datasets, software and hardware considerations for working with the data, data processing (raw or classified point clouds, Digital Elevation Models, other derived products), and approaches for analyzing the data to answer their research questions. The GEON LiDAR Workflow will also be included in this discussion.


NSF This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0225673 (GEON). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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