Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Digital geologic mapping

Digital geologic mapping

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Digital geologic mapping'
Start a new discussion about 'Digital geologic mapping'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Digital geologic mapping is the process by which geologic features are observed, analyzed, and recorded in the field and displayed in real-time on a computer or personal digital assistant
Personal digital assistant
A personal digital assistant , also known as a palmtop computer, or personal data assistant, is a mobile device that functions as a personal information manager. Current PDAs often have the ability to connect to the Internet...

 (PDA
PDA
A PDA is most commonly a Personal digital assistant, also known as a Personal data assistant, a mobile electronic device.PDA may also refer to:In science, medicine and technology:...

). The primary function of this emerging technology is to produce spatially referenced geologic maps that can be utilized and updated while conducting field work.

Traditional geologic mapping


Geologic map
Geologic map
A geologic map or geological map is a special-purpose map made to show geological features. Rock units or geologic strata are shown by color or symbols to indicate where they are exposed at the surface...

ping is an interpretive process involving multiple types of information, from analytical data to personal observation, all synthesized and recorded by the geologist
Geologist
A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth as well as the processes and history that has shaped it. Geologists usually engage in studying geology. Geologists, studying more of an applied science than a theoretical one, must approach Geology using...

. Geologic observations have traditionally been recorded on paper, whether on standardized note cards, in a notebook
Notebook
A notebook is a book or binder composed of pages of notes, often ruled, made out of paper, used for purposes including recording notes or memoranda, writing, drawing, and scrapbooking....

, or on a map
Map
A map is a visual representation of an area—a symbolic depiction highlighting relationships between elements of that space such as objects, regions, and themes....

.

Mapping in the digital era


In the 21st century, computer technology and software are becoming portable and powerful enough to take on some of the more mundane tasks a geologist must perform in the field, such as precisely locating oneself with a GPS unit, displaying multiple images (maps
MAPS
Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

, satellite images, aerial photography
Aerial photography
Aerial photography is the taking of photographs of the ground from an elevated position. The term usually refers to images in which the camera is not supported by a ground-based structure. Cameras may be hand held or mounted, and photographs may be taken by a photographer, triggered remotely or...

, etc.), plotting strike and dip
Strike and dip
Strike and dip refer to the orientation or attitude of a geologic feature. The strike line of a bed, fault, or other planar feature is a line representing the intersection of that feature with a horizontal plane. On a geologic map, this is represented with a short straight line segment oriented...

 symbols, and color coding different physical characteristics of a lithology
Lithology
The lithology of a rock unit is a description of its physical characteristics visible at outcrop, in hand or core samples or with low magnification microscopy, such as colour, texture, grain size, or composition. It may be either a detailed description of these characteristics or be a summary of...

 or contact type (e.g., unconformity
Unconformity
An unconformity is a buried erosion surface separating two rock masses or strata of different ages, indicating that sediment deposition was not continuous. In general, the older layer was exposed to erosion for an interval of time before deposition of the younger, but the term is used to describe...

) between rock strata
Stratum
In geology and related fields, a stratum is a layer of sedimentary rock or soil with internally consistent characteristics that distinguish it from other layers...

. Additionally, computers can now perform some tasks that were difficult to accomplish in the field, for example, handwriting
Handwriting recognition
Handwriting recognition is the ability of a computer to receive and interpret intelligible handwritten input from sources such as paper documents, photographs, touch-screens and other devices. The image of the written text may be sensed "off line" from a piece of paper by optical scanning or...

 or voice recognition and annotating photographs on the spot.

Digital mapping
Digital mapping
Digital mapping is the process by which a collection of data is compiled and formatted into a virtual image. The primary function of this technology is to produce maps that give accurate representations of a particular area, detailing major road arteries and other points of interest...

 has positive and negative effects on the mapping process; only an assessment of its impact on a geological mapping project as a whole shows whether it provides a net benefit. With the use of computers in the field, the recording of observations and basic data management
Data management
Data management comprises all the disciplines related to managing data as a valuable resource.- Overview :The official definition provided by DAMA International, the professional organization for those in the data management profession, is: "Data Resource Management is the development and execution...

 changes dramatically. The use of digital mapping also affects when data analysis
Data analysis
Analysis of data is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making...

 occurs in the mapping process, but does not greatly affect the process itself.

Some advantages of digital mapping

  • Data entered by a geologist
    Geologist
    A geologist is a scientist who studies the solid and liquid matter that constitutes the Earth as well as the processes and history that has shaped it. Geologists usually engage in studying geology. Geologists, studying more of an applied science than a theoretical one, must approach Geology using...

     may have fewer errors than data transcribed by a data entry clerk
    Data entry clerk
    A data entry clerk, sometimes called a typist, is a member of staff employed to type data into a database using a keyboard. The keyboards used can often have specialist keys and multiple colours to help them in the task and speed up the work.-Examples:...

    .
  • Data entry by geologists in the field may take less total time than subsequent data entry in the office, potentially reducing the overall time needed to complete a project.
  • The spatial extent of real world objects and their attributes
    Attribute (computing)
    In computing, an attribute is a specification that defines a property of an object, element, or file. It may also refer to or set the specific value for a given instance of such....

     can be entered directly into a database
    Database
    A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

     with geographic information system
    Geographic Information System
    A geographic information system, geographical information science, or geospatial information studies is a system designed to capture, store, manipulate, analyze, manage, and present all types of geographically referenced data...

     (GIS) capability. Features can be automatically color coded and symbolized based on set criteria.
  • Multiple maps
    MAPS
    Maps is the plural of map, a visual representation of an area.As an acronym, MAPS may refer to:* Mail Abuse Prevention System, an organisation that provides anti-spam support...

     and imagery (geophysical maps, satellite images, orthophoto
    Orthophoto
    An orthophoto, orthophotograph or orthoimage is an aerial photograph geometrically corrected such that the scale is uniform: the photo has the same lack of distortion as a map...

    s, etc.) can easily be carried and displayed on-screen.
  • Geologists may upload each others’ data files for the next day’s field work as reference.
  • Data analysis
    Data analysis
    Analysis of data is a process of inspecting, cleaning, transforming, and modeling data with the goal of highlighting useful information, suggesting conclusions, and supporting decision making...

     may start immediately after returning from the field, since the database has already been populated.
  • Data can be constrained by dictionaries and dropdown menus to ensure that data are recorded systematically and that mandatory data are not forgotten
  • Labour-saving tools and functionlaity can be provided in the field e.g. structure contours on the fly, and 3D visualisation
  • Systems can be wirelessly connected to other digital field equipment (such as digital cameras and sensor webs)

Some disadvantages of digital mapping

  • Computers and related items (extra batteries, stylus, cameras, etc.) must be carried in the field.
  • Field data entry into the computer may take longer than physically writing on paper, possibly resulting in longer field programs.
  • Data entered by multiple geologists may contain more inconsistencies than data entered by one person, making the database
    Database
    A database is an organized collection of data for one or more purposes, usually in digital form. The data are typically organized to model relevant aspects of reality , in a way that supports processes requiring this information...

     more difficult to query
    Information retrieval
    Information retrieval is the area of study concerned with searching for documents, for information within documents, and for metadata about documents, as well as that of searching structured storage, relational databases, and the World Wide Web...

    .
  • Written descriptions convey to the reader detailed information through imagery that may not be communicated by the same data in parsed
    Parsing
    In computer science and linguistics, parsing, or, more formally, syntactic analysis, is the process of analyzing a text, made of a sequence of tokens , to determine its grammatical structure with respect to a given formal grammar...

     format.
  • Geologists may be inclined to shorten text descriptions because they are difficult to enter (either by handwriting
    Handwriting recognition
    Handwriting recognition is the ability of a computer to receive and interpret intelligible handwritten input from sources such as paper documents, photographs, touch-screens and other devices. The image of the written text may be sensed "off line" from a piece of paper by optical scanning or...

     or voice recognition), resulting in loss of data.
  • There are no original, hardcopy field maps or notes to archive
    Archive
    An archive is a collection of historical records, or the physical place they are located. Archives contain primary source documents that have accumulated over the course of an individual or organization's lifetime, and are kept to show the function of an organization...

    . Paper is a more stable medium than digital format.

Educational and scientific uses


Some universities and secondary educators
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

 are integrating digital geologic mapping into class work. For example, The GeoPad project http://geopad.org describes the combination of technology, teaching field geology, and geologic mapping in programs such as Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University, often referred to as Bowling Green or BGSU, is a public, coeducational research university located in Bowling Green, Ohio, United States. The institution was granted a charter in 1910 by the State of Ohio as part of the Lowry Bill, which also established Kent State...

’s geology field camp.http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/geology/page58461.html
At Urbino University (Italy) :it:Università di Urbino, Field Digital Mapping Techniques are integrated in Earth and Environmental Sciences courses since 2006 http://www.uniurb.it/ISDA/Eolieweb/index.html http://www.uniurb.it/ISDA/sanbartolo/intro.html.
The MapTeach program is designed to provide hands-on digital mapping for middle and high school students.http://www.mapteach.org/ The SPLINT http://www.le.ac.uk/geography/splint/ project in the UK is using the BGS field mapping system as part of their teaching curriculum

Digital mapping technology can be applied to traditional geologic mapping, reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 mapping, and surveying
Surveying
See Also: Public Land Survey SystemSurveying or land surveying is the technique, profession, and science of accurately determining the terrestrial or three-dimensional position of points and the distances and angles between them...

 of geologic features. At international digital field data capture (DFDC) meetings, major geological surveys (e.g., British Geological Survey
British Geological Survey
The British Geological Survey is a partly publicly funded body which aims to advance geoscientific knowledge of the United Kingdom landmass and its continental shelf by means of systematic surveying, monitoring and research. The BGS headquarters are in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, but other centres...

 and Geological Survey of Canada) discuss how to harness and develop the technology.http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/dfdc/home.html Many other geological surveys and private companies are also designing systems to conduct scientific and applied
Applied science
Applied science is the application of scientific knowledge transferred into a physical environment. Examples include testing a theoretical model through the use of formal science or solving a practical problem through the use of natural science....

 geological mapping of, for example, geothermal springs and mine sites.

Digital mapping equipment


The initial cost of digital geologic computing and supporting equipment may be significant. In addition, equipment and software must be replaced occasionally due to damage, loss, and obsolescence. Products moving through the market are quickly discontinued as technology and consumer interests evolve. A product that works well for digital mapping may not be available for purchase the following year; however, testing multiple brands and generations of equipment and software is prohibitively expensive.

Common essential features


Some features of digital mapping equipment are common to both survey or reconnaissance mapping and “traditional” comprehensive mapping. The capture of less data-intensive reconnaissance mapping or survey data in the field can be accomplished by less robust databases and GIS programs, and hardware with a smaller screen size.

  • Devices and software are intuitive to learn and easy to use
  • Rugged
    Rugged
    Rugged may refer to:*Rugged Island*Rugged Lark*Rugged Mountain*Rugged computer...

    , as typically defined by military standards (MIL-STD-810) and ingress protection rating
    Ingress protection rating
    The IP Code consists of the letters IP followed by two digits or one digit and one letter and an optional letter...

    s
  • Waterproof
  • Screen is easy to read in bright sunlight and on gray sky days
  • Removable static memory cards can be used to back up data
  • Memory on board is recoverable
  • Real-time and post-processing differential correction
    Differential GPS
    Differential Global Positioning System is an enhancement to Global Positioning System that provides improved location accuracy, from the 15-meter nominal GPS accuracy to about 10 cm in case of the best implementations....

     for GPS locations
  • Portable battery with at least 9 hours of life at near constant use
  • Can change batteries in the field
  • Batteries should have no “memory,” such as with NiCd
  • Chargeable by unconventional power sources (generators, solar, etc.)
  • Wireless real-time link to GPS or built-in GPS
  • Wireless real-time link from computer to camera and other peripherals
  • USB port(s)

Features essential to capture traditional geologic observations


Hardware and software only recently (in 2000) became available that can satisfy most of the criteria necessary for digitally capturing "traditional" mapping data.
  • Screen about 5" x 7"—compact but large enough to see map features. In 2009, some traditional mapping is conducted on PDA
    PDA
    A PDA is most commonly a Personal digital assistant, also known as a Personal data assistant, a mobile electronic device.PDA may also refer to:In science, medicine and technology:...

    s.
  • Lightweight—ideally less than 3 lbs.
  • Transcription to digital text from handwriting and voice recognition.
  • Can store paragraphs of data (text fields).
  • Can store complex relational database
    Relational database
    A relational database is a database that conforms to relational model theory. The software used in a relational database is called a relational database management system . Colloquial use of the term "relational database" may refer to the RDBMS software, or the relational database itself...

     with drop-down lists.
  • Operating system and hardware are compatible with a robust GIS program.
  • At least 512 MB memory.

History

Year(s) available Field system name Base software Hardware used Reference
1989–1992 MERLIN BGS Custom EPSON EHT400E Handheld computer
1991-1999? FIELDLOG AutoCAD
AutoCAD
AutoCAD is a software application for computer-aided design and drafting in both 2D and 3D. It is developed and sold by Autodesk, Inc. First released in December 1982, AutoCAD was one of the first CAD programs to run on personal computers, notably the IBM PC...

, Fieldworker
Apple Newton
Apple Newton
The MessagePad was the first series of personal digital assistant devices developed by Apple for the Newton platform in 1993. Some electronic engineering and the manufacture of Apple's MessagePad devices was done in Japan by the Sharp Corporation...

 PDA
1998–2000 G-Map Esri Arc-View PC & Web Based Eni-Temars
TaskForceMajella
The TaskForceMajella is an industry funded geoscientific research project conducted between the years 1998 and 2005. The project involved numerous universities distributed worldwide, and was sponsored by a number of international major oil companies...

2001?-2002? GeoLink Geolink unknown
2002–2010 MIDAS ESRI's ArcPAD and BGS bespoke database iPAQ PDAs
2002–Present Geopad ESRI's ArcGIS, Microsoft OneNote, etc. Rugged Tablet PCs and Tablet PCs
2004–2008 Map IT (not longer available) Map IT Ruggedized Tablet PC
http://www.uniurb.it/ISDA/MAPIT/
2006–2008 Geologic Data Assistant (GDA) customized ArcPad 6.0.3 (ESRI
ESRI
Esri is a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System software and geodatabase management applications. The headquarters of Esri is in Redlands, California....

)
Ruggedized PDA
2001–2010 ArcPad ESRI
ESRI
Esri is a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System software and geodatabase management applications. The headquarters of Esri is in Redlands, California....

's ArcPad
Ruggedized PDA or Tablet PC
2002?-2010 GeoMapper PenMap http://www.Penmap.com Ruggedized PDA or Tablet PC
2006?-2010 SAIC GeoRover Extension for ESRI
ESRI
Esri is a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System software and geodatabase management applications. The headquarters of Esri is in Redlands, California....

's ArcGIS
ArcGIS
ArcGIS is a suite consisting of a group of geographic information system software products produced by Esri.ArcGIS is a system for working with maps and geographic information...

Ruggedized PDA or Tablet PC http://www.esri.com/industries/defense/pdfs/georover.pdf
2003–2010 GAFAG GeoRover (name protected in Europe) Mobile geological information system Ruggedized PDA, Tablet PC, Desktop PC, Laptop http://www.gaf.de/sites/default/files/content/portfolio_software_gaf_product/GeoRover/GeoRover_0.pdf
2000?-2010 BGS-SIGMAmobile http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/3dmodelling/sigma.html Customized ArcGIS
ArcGIS
ArcGIS is a suite consisting of a group of geographic information system software products produced by Esri.ArcGIS is a system for working with maps and geographic information...

, MS Access, InfiNotes
Ruggedized Tablet PC http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/3dmodelling/sigma.html
2008–Present BeeGIS Built on top of uDig http://jgrass.wiki.software.bz.it/jgrass/BeeGIS Tablet PC (ruggized or not), Desktop PC, Laptop (Win, Mac or Linux Systems) http://www.beegis.org/
2011–Present FieldMove http://www.mve.com/software/fieldmove/ Midland Valley's Move Tablet PC (ruggized or not), Desktop PC, Laptop (Windows XP or later)

Software


Since every geologic mapping project covers an area with unique lithologies and complexities, and every geologist has a unique style of mapping, no software is perfect for digital geologic mapping out of the box. The geologist can chose to either modify their mapping style to the available software, or modify the software to their mapping style, which may require extensive programming. As of 2009, available geologic mapping software (ESRI
ESRI
Esri is a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System software and geodatabase management applications. The headquarters of Esri is in Redlands, California....

's ArcPad http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/arcpad/index.html, PenMap http://www.penmap.com/, BeeGIS http://www.beegis.org/) require some degree of customization for a given geologic mapping project. Some digital-mapping geologists/programmers have chosen to highly customize or extend ESRI
ESRI
Esri is a software development and services company providing Geographic Information System software and geodatabase management applications. The headquarters of Esri is in Redlands, California....

's ArcGIS
ArcGIS
ArcGIS is a suite consisting of a group of geographic information system software products produced by Esri.ArcGIS is a system for working with maps and geographic information...

 instead (e.g., BGS-SIGMAmobile http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/3dmodelling/sigma.html and GeoRover http://www.esri.com/industries/defense/pdfs/georover.pdf). At digital field data capture meetings such as at the British Geological Survey in 2002 http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/dfdc/abstracts.html some organisations agreed to share development experiences, and some software systems are now available to download for free, such as BGS-SIGMAmobile http://www.bgs.ac.uk/science/3dmodelling/SigmaDownload.html.

Hardware


A computer or PDA, GPS, stylus
Stylus
A stylus is a writing utensil, or a small tool for some other form of marking or shaping, for example in pottery. The word is also used for a computer accessory . It usually refers to a narrow elongated staff, similar to a modern ballpoint pen. Many styli are heavily curved to be held more easily...

, and sometimes a rangefinder
Rangefinder
A rangefinder is a device that measures distance from the observer to a target, for the purposes of surveying, determining focus in photography, or accurately aiming a weapon. Some devices use active methods to measure ; others measure distance using trigonometry...

 are required for digital geologic mapping. As of 2009, ruggedized tablet PC
Tablet computer
A tablet computer, or simply tablet, is a complete mobile computer, larger than a mobile phone or personal digital assistant, integrated into a flat touch screen and primarily operated by touching the screen...

s and laptops (e.g., Trimble Navigation's Yuma http://www.trimble.com/mgis_yuma_rugged_tablet.shtml, Xplore Technologies' iX104 series http://www.xploretech.com/index.pl, Group Mobile's Getac series http://www.getac.com/) are being used in the field. Geologists needing a lighter weight option with longer battery life use PDAs (e.g., Trimble Navigation's GeoExplorer series http://www.trimble.com/geoxh.shtml) instead. GPS units are commonly built into the computers, but they may also be external and wireless.

External links