GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 4-6
Presentation Time: 9:20 AM


ARPIN, Sarah, Kentucky Geological Survey, University of Kentucky, 504 Rose St, Lexington, KY 40506

Big Earth data projects such as 3D mapping and modeling are popular in the geosciences; many agencies aspire to create these valuable models to assist their research or resource-management missions. Such models are constructed by inputting and integrating numerous high-quality digital data products. The first step in a project of this scale and complexity is straightforward, yet integral to the success of the project: compilation of high-quality digital input data.

Though they may not be in digital format or have appropriate metadata, existing legacy data, often stored as less-accessible paper files or optically scanned files, are available for many agencies to use to create more-accessible high-quality data inputs for a Big Earth data project. The USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program supports efforts of state geological surveys and bureaus within the U.S. Department of the Interior to inventory and preserve collections and curate legacy data to prevent data loss. Beyond the more immediate purpose, data preservation also lays the foundation for bigger products and projects such as 3D geologic modeling.

The Kentucky Geological Survey has received support through the Data Preservation Program for a number of projects. An excellent example of a high-quality data input created through the proper curation of existing data is the water-well lithologic data entry project, begun in FY2019 and continued in FY2021. Lithologic data from scanned water-well documents were entered into the Kentucky Groundwater Data Repository to aid in the identification of aquifers. Presently, the lack of lithologic data for thousands of water-well records stored in the Repository constitutes the single greatest data gap and impediment to aquifer designation and mapping in Kentucky.

Characterizing aquifers and subsurface geology, and identifying and mapping geospatial boundaries, are difficult in Kentucky because of the diversity of geologic settings and extreme lateral and vertical stratigraphic variability. The availability of detailed lithologic data recorded on water-well drillers’ logs and the correlation of these data with other information will not only allow for aquifer designation and mapping, but the data will also become a key component in the creation of a 3D geologic model.