INTEGRATING GEOINFORMATICS FOR THE EARTH SCIENCES INTO THE CYBER-INFRASTRUCTURE
The earth sciences geoinformatics system will include: efficient information and data retrieval mechanisms from databases distributed around the world; 3-D search engines; visualization, analysis, and modeling capabilities; online workspace, software, and tutorials; and integration with online scientific journal aggregates and digital libraries. In practical terms, a system of seamless interoperability of databases will provide the ability to gather data over the Web from a variety of distributed sources, regardless of computer operating systems, database formats, and servers. Search engines will gather data about any geographic location, above, on, or below ground, covering any geologic time, and at any scale or detail. A distributed network of digital geolibraries can archive permanent copies of databases that are maintained by the data authors.
Instead of posting specific tables, charts, or maps based on static databases, the dynamic data network system creates these products on the fly, each time an inquiry is made, using the latest information in the appropriate databases. In the dynamic system, a map generated today may differ from one created yesterday and one to be created tomorrow because the databases used to make it are constantly (and sometimes automatically) being updated.
The challenge for all of us in the earth science community is to come to agreement on how we will participate in the geoinformatics revolution.