2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 16
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


SCOTESE, Christopher R., Earth and Environmental Sciences, Univ of Texas at Arlington, PO Box 19049, Arlington, TX 76012 and REES, P. McAllister, Geosciences, Univ of Arizona, 1040 E. 4th St, Tucson, AZ 85721, chris@scotese.com

Geologists have traditionally used maps and stratigraphic sections to describe the spatial and temporal location of geological information. The "Spatial-Temporal Information Matrix", or STIM is the digital equivalent of these tools. A hyperdimensional cube, the STIM model permits the storage and quick retrieval of all kinds of geological information. The three principal axes of the STIM model can be visualized as a cube whose Z-axis is time, and whose X & Y axes are present-day geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude). The STIM cube can be subdivided into billions of "box-cells", or boxels. Each boxel can hold any type of geological information. It can be a "value" (e.g. paleo-elevation, rock property, or geochemical measurement) or an "index" that points to values or attributes in a more complex table or database. Some of the advantages of STIM are: 1) it is compatible with existing geographic information systems (GIS), 2) it permits data from many different data sources to be combined in a common data structure, 3) it allows new associations to be made between disparate data types, 4) and it provides a new way to visualize spatial-temporal data . Inexpensive mass-storage makes the STIM model physically possible. It is estimated that a STIM model describing the geophysics, geochemistry, and stratigraphy of the Earth back to the late Precambrian would require approximately 50 terabytes. Further efficiencies and increases in resolution could be made by implementing a method of dynamic scaling that modifies the size of each boxel depending on the data density and resolution. To test the STIM approach the authors are constructing a STIM cube that describes the paleo-position of any present-day geographic feature back through time. In this data model, the uppermost level of the cube is an x-y grid of present-day latitude and longitude. Each boxel (specified by latitude, longitude and time) contains the paleo-latitude and paleo-longitude of that geographic location back through time. This Paleo-Reconstruction Information Matrix (PRIM) would allow users to produce paleo-reconstructions illustrating the past locations of any kind of geological data set. A PRIM cube with a boxel size of one degree by one degree, and a temporal resolution of 1 million years would require only 80 megabytes of storage.