2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM

Paper No. 27
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-6:00 PM

Public-Friendly Access to on-Line Collections Data: The UI Paleontology Repository's Digital Image Project

BAILEY, Tawny L.1, ADRAIN, Tiffany1 and BUDD, Ann F.2, (1)Department of Geoscience, University of Iowa, 121 Trowbridge Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242, (2)Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Iowa, 115 Trowbridge Hall, Iowa City, IA 52242, tawny-bailey@uiowa.edu

The University of Iowa Paleontology Repository (www.uiowa.edu/~geology/paleo) is digitizing its collections and making them accessible on the Internet. The NSF-funded project (DBI-0544235) focuses on cataloguing and illustrating specimens for access by researchers who have specific queries and research goals, but the available on-line queries will be overwhelming for the public. With the help of NSF Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) funding, a new website component is being developed to provide a more inviting and user-friendly means of investigating the collections and encourage the public to explore the paleontological resources available. The website is an additional resource for researchers and students as a starting point for querying the Specify Collections Database, and provides a general overview of the collections. Four activities are available, aimed at the public, schools and higher education. “Fossils 101” provides an introduction to paleontology, fossil preservation, evolution, geologic time, the rock record, and biological classification, to allow visitors unfamiliar with these concepts better understanding of the website. A guide to collecting and caring for fossils, with a field notebook and specimen labels, can be downloaded for use. “Fossils in My Back Yard” is an interactive map that allows visitors to click on their Iowa county of interest and see an illustrated list of fossils found there, based on the Paleontology Repository's collections. Users can also select fossils by geologic age and taxonomic group. These web queries are created dynamically from an Oracle database containing a subset of data present in the Specify Collections Database. “Fossil Detective” provides illustrated keys and guidance for identifying common Iowa fossils, while “Fabulous Fossils” showcases the Paleontology Repository's spectacular fossils from around the world. The project is also an important learning experience for the associated undergraduate student who has gained experience in science writing, collection use, paleontology, photography and website design.