FGDC Geologic Data Subcommittee
Minutes of Meeting,
November 22, 1999

Attending: Jerry Bernard (Natural Resources Conservation Service), Lindsay McClelland (National Park Service), Jan Morton (U.S. Geological Survey), Matilde Moss (U.S. Geological Survey), Dave Soller (U.S. Geological Survey), Dave Zinzer (Minerals Management Service).

This meeting was called primarily to discuss the status of the Subcommittee's proposed draft standard for geologic map symbolization, to review comments on the draft, and to vote whether to forward the document to the FGDC for public review. The meeting concluded with discussion of various other issues, briefly described below.

1. Discussion of proposed Federal standard for geologic map symbolization:

A. Background -- Before discussing the proposed standard, the history of development of this standard was described (it also is summarized in the standard's introductory sections, and at ). For many years, until the early 1980's, the USGS maintained an internal standard for geologic map symbolization. In 1995, a revision to this standard was issued, as a USGS Open-file report. That document was extensively reviewed in 1996 and, based on the review's summary document, this Subcommittee proposed development of a Federal geologic map symbolization standard. A preliminary version of this proposed standard and an implementation in Postscript format was developed in 1997. Following an internal review of that document, the draft standard was prepared for Subcommittee review in Fall, 1999. Also, the USGS in 1998 began work with ESRI on an implementation of the standard in ArcInfo and ArcView (see ).

B. Review of comments to the proposed standard -- Comments and editorial changes were provided by the attending members, by two members unable to attend (Jim Gauthier-Warrinner, U.S. Forest Service; Laurel Gorman, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), and by members of the USGS regional Publications Groups. All comments were acknowledged by the coordinator of this standard (Dave Soller, USGS), and will be discussed and resolved with the USGS group responsible for developing the draft (led by Taryn Lindquist). No comments represented a significant flaw in the document and they were, in general, confined to editorial and typographical suggestions.

C. Plan for resolution of comments -- Soller and Lindquist will discuss all suggested revisions, and will, in writing, provide a response to the Subcommittee. Revisions are limited to issues of clarity and proper usage of symbols. Potential thematic overlap with standards under development by other Subcommittees will be addressed as needed during the FGDC public review process. It is expected that the USGS can complete the revisions within two months.

D. How will the standard be maintained and revised? -- This document is intended to become a "living standard"; i.e., it will be maintained and revised as needed to reflect changing usage and conventions. As stated in the document's introductory section, it is proposed that authority for maintenance of this standard will be given to the National Geologic Map Database project (NGMDB), a cooperative effort of the USGS and the Association of American State Geologists (AASG). The Subcommittee decided to further propose that the NGMDB would sponsor a standing committee that, as needed, will review comments and suggestions for revisions, deletions, and additions to the standard. The committee would be composed of members of the NGMDB project, the USGS Publications Groups, the USGS scientific staff, the AASG, and the academic community. Geologists and cartographers in the private-sector and other organizations would be welcome to participate in the process of keeping the standard up-to-date; regarding their potential participation on the standards committee, we will consult the Federal Advisory Committee (FACA) regulations to determine how they might participate. It will be proposed that the standards committee consider changes to the standard at least once every year, and perhaps more often in the first year or so once the standard is approved. This standards-maintenance mechanism will be tested by forming the committee before completion of the FGDC public review, so that it might help this Subcommittee evaluate the comments and prepare the revised document for final FGDC approval.

The initial authoritative version of the standard will be the printed version that is approved following the FGDC public review. Thereafter, changes to the standard will be reflected in an online version, which will become the authoritative reference. To help users maintain a current hard-copy version of the standard, it will be proposed that the initial version be printed in a loose-leaf format; subsequent changes to the standard will be made available as a printable copy, which could then be inserted where appropriate into the loose-leaf document. This strategy is similar to that employed for many years by the USGS, for maintaining the internal standard noted in "Background", above.

E. Vote whether to forward the revised draft to the FGDC for public review -- Dave Zinzer made the motion, Lindsay McClelland seconded it, and the resulting vote was unanimous in approval of the document, pending suggested revisions, for submission to the FGDC for public review. Jim Gauthier-Warrinner and Laurel Gorman, although unable to attend, had previously indicated their approval of this motion. Prior to the public review, it was suggested that we seek AGI's assistance in getting copies to appropriate organizations and people, and that review of the draft standard be publicized in venues such as Geotime, GSAToday, and EOS.

Discussion then turned to strategies for publishing the revised document (full-color, black&white, paper-only, or online). Because of the high cost of printing color copies, and the uncertainty in estimated the number needed, the preference is to print the document in black and white. The color of each symbol and pattern would then be noted with a single letter code, in a new column added to each page. The geologic age color chart and the CMYK color charts will be available for inspection at the Subcommittee web site. The feasibility of this approach will be discussed with the USGS staff that prepared the current draft, and any necessary changes to this strategy will be decided by the Subcommittee. The final, FGDC-approved version of the standard will be printed in full color, as described in section 1.D, above.

To help estimate the number of copies needed for the FGDC public review, Subcommittee members will, within two weeks, determine the number of copies needed by their agency, and inform Jan Morton and Dave Soller. Soller will determine the number of copies required by the FGDC, and will discuss with the AASG and AGI the number of copies they will need. Finally, Dave Soller will contact Julie Binder-Maitra (FGDC) regarding the process by which the FGDC Standards Working Group intends to review the draft standard. Specifically, does this review occur before or during the public review?

2. Digital Mapping Techniques workshops (1997, `98, `99, `00) -- Dave Soller provided an overview of this workshop series (see summary at http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Info/standards/ datacapt/datacaptureWG.html). These workshops are intended to provide a forum that promotes more efficient and useful methods for digital mapping in the State geological surveys, the USGS, universities, and other agencies. These workshops have proven to be a useful means for agencies to assess their digital mapping capabilities and standards, and to revise their approaches, teach other experts, and share knowledge. The 1999 proceedings volume was just published, and a copy will be sent to each Subcommittee member. When the 2000 meeting is announced, Subcommittee members will be notified and encouraged to send a technical expert.

3. Discussion of proposed Federal standard for a geologic map data model -- This activity was proposed last year by the Subcommittee, and Dave Soller provided a progress report. A AASG-USGS-Geological Survey of Canada working group developed in 1998 a draft data model, which was subsequently evaluated at a workshop. As a result, the model was somewhat revised, and a Steering Committee was formed to oversee further development of the data model, standard scientific terminology, and software needed to implement the model as a North American standard (see overview at http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Info/standards/datamodel/ datamodelWG.html and Steering Committee activities at http://nadm-geo.org).

Development of a widely-useable standard data model is a highly complex task that will test the committment and resources of the respective agencies. This activity must therefore be regarded as a long term effort that will require the participating agencies to evaluate the level of standardization that is productive, reasonable, and affordable. For the near-term, the Subcommittee may assist the process by identifying staff members to serve on data model Steering Committee Technical Teams. Progress toward development of a data model that could become a Federal standard will periodically be reported to the Subcommittee.

4. Subcommittee representation to FGDC Standards Working Group -- Dave Zinzer has represented the Subcommittee to this Working Group, and has asked to be replaced. The Subcommittee thanks him for his valuable service, and will determine how to proceed with this request. Jan Morton will contact John Moeller (FGDC), to notify him that Zinzer's term has ended, and will inquire whether the Working Group must be staffed by representatives from each subcommittee, or whether it might be more appropriate for each subcommittee to participate in Working Group reviews of standards only when the standard in question is relevant to subcommittee member's expertise. If the latter is more reasonable, then the Working Group might be staffed by a core group of standards development experts, and our Subcommittee would periodically monitor the standards under review.

5. Miscellaneous -- The next Subcommittee meeting will be held after the FGDC public review of the draft eologic map symbolization standard. With the assistance of the standing committee noted above (section 1.D), review comments will be addressed at that meeting. Finally, the Subcommittee annual report to the FGDC will, within a month, be drafted by Jan and Dave, and circulated to Subcommittee members for comment.