GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 174-1
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


BOWRING, James F., Department of Computer Science, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424, MCLEAN, Noah, Department of Geology, The University of Kansas, 1475 Jayhawk Blvd., Lindley Hall, Lawrence, KS 66045 and WALKER, J. Douglas, Department of Geology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045,

Sam Bowring anticipated and pioneered the development of a first-of-its-kind collaboration between geochronologists and computer scientists to develop what he called “cradle to tomb,” cyberinfrastructure to support the flow of data for geochronology from the field to the laboratory to publicly accessible online databases. He first approached Jim Bowring in 1996 to discuss the problems and to explore solutions, and the work has continued to advance from that point. Sam was adamant that earth scientists should not need to engage in computer science to develop tools to support their work, and that there was a great opportunity instead for collaboration with computer scientists to advance science, working together to create software that drives improvements in precision, accuracy, reproducibility, availability, and education. The word “Cyberinfrastructure” would not be coined until 1998, yet Sam Bowring foresaw the need for its key elements and processes.

In the twenty years since then, Sam Bowring has lead the efforts to reify these ideas in concert with the authors and others. He worked with Doug Erwin to establish EARTHTIME in 2001 as a community-driven initiative with the goal of calibrating Earth history and developing the geochronological techniques necessary to produce high precision dates. These techniques included the collaborative development of robust open source software tools to support the scientific workflows of geochronologists including data reduction, analysis, and archiving. The resulting tools Tripoli and ET_Redux, developed with the authors and others, now play a key role in U-Pb geochronology. One of the most important aspects of his vision and these efforts was his anticipation of open data and the integration of these tools with EarthChem data repositories, especially, developed with author Doug Walker. Sam and Doug understood the power of open access to data and Sam insisted early on that ET_Redux be able to compile archived analyses from data repositories to potentially support novel advances. The overarching theme of Sam Bowring’s vision for collaborative development of cyberinfrastructure is the potential to improve education at all levels by insisting on transparency and reproducibility.

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