UMass Sesquicentennial

Embracing the digital revolution; issues of concern to geological surveys

TitleEmbracing the digital revolution; issues of concern to geological surveys
Publication TypeConference Proceedings
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsKopera, JP
Conference NameAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
Pagination99 - 99
Date Published2009/02/01/
PublisherGeological Society of America (GSA) : Boulder, CO, United States
Conference LocationUnited States
ISBN Number00167592
Keywords#StaffPubs, cartography, digital cartography, digitization, geographic information systems, Geologic maps 14, information systems, mapping, techniques

Advancements in GIS and digital mapping techniques have improved the efficient production and visualization of geologic data. The Office of the Massachusetts State Geologist (OMSG) utilizes these tools extensively to produce geologic maps and fulfill its mission of making geologic data freely accessible to the public. Such tools have increased efficiency at the OMSG in fieldwork preparation and map production, in addition to creating new types of geologic maps. This same technology also creates new problems that need to be addressed: 1.) Accessing digital data inherently requires more specialized knowledge than reading a paper document. Most citizens do not have access to commercial GIS software, know how to use it, or know where to get digital data. 2.) The longevity of digital data at present is problematic. Various proprietary data formats and unstable digital media quickly become antiquated and unusable. 3.) Digital geospatial datasets tend to lack uniform and adequate metadata on their quality, origin, purpose, context, and appropriateness of use. In the rush to embrace digital technology it is useful to keep in mind that such tools should simplify our work as geologists and increase the utility and availability of the data we produce. Issues of accessibility can be addressed by education and the adoption of non-proprietary open-source software, data formats and standards. Problems with the viability of data may eventually be solved by advances in technology. In the meantime, stable paper or mylar maps should be not be abandoned. The creation and maintenance of high-quality metadata and well-organized, thorough, centralized databases is critical in keeping the flood of new digital data navigable. In the end, we must be able to easily modify any new technology we adopt to address the problems it presents, or we risk compromising our discipline to fit the limitations of that technology.

Short TitleAbstracts with Programs - Geological Society of America
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The MA Geological Survey
Department of Geosciences
269 Morrill Science Center
University of Massachusetts
611 North Pleasant Street
Amherst, MA 01003-9297

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