Summary Analysis of Potential Queries for Digital Geologic Map Databases: Some Conceptual Requirements

report prepared by the

Data Model Design Team

for the

North American Digital Geologic Map Data Model Steering Committee
November, 7, 2001, Bi-Annual Meeting

The list below summarizes the NADM Data Model Design Team's (DMDT's) analysis of several hundred queries that could be posed to a geologic map information database. The queries were generated as part of NADM Science Language development (the SLLT team), in response to a request to its members by SLLT for typical geological queries that could be used to shape geologic information system requirements. The analysis is broken into 5 parts: 1) Representative Queries; 2) Classifications, Descriptions, and Relationships suggested by the questions; 3) Operations suggested by the questions; 4) Actions suggested by the questions; and 5) Spatial Relations suggested by the questions. Note that these finding are not meant to be comprehensive, but rather, representative of the queries provided (and their authors). However, as the queries originate from a relatively wide cross-section of the government-based geological community in the U.S. and Canada, they can be seen as generally indicative of the broader issues, and a thus a good initial step toward informing geologic information system design. The original queries can be located at; a partial classification of these queries can be found at This document represents a generalized summary of those texts.

1 Queries

1.1 For selected object, report metadata information, including lineage (e.g. authorship, chain of reasoning, formative causal processes, data processing, etc.) and quality (e.g. confidence, accuracy, completeness, etc.)
1.2 Given metadata criteria, find all spatial objects that meet specification
1.3 Report all citations for classifications and descriptions related to this map view
1.4 Report all maps and/or other documents that occur in this area, developed by a certain author, agency, etc., and/or contain these classifications (e.g. map units), descriptions (e.g. age ranges), or occurrences (e.g. mines, structural measurements,...)
Classification (concepts)
1.5 Select classifications (e.g. map units) of specified name
1.6 Select occurrences (e.g. structural features, drill holes) of a given type
1.7 Report the description of a class
1.8 Given a description, report the classes that satisfy that description (e.g. all Devonian map units)
1.9 Report the classes related to a specific descriptions (e.g. map units in the hanging wall of the Bozo thrust)
1.10 Relations
1.10.1 Hierarchical Report all subtypes or parts of a class (e.g. members of formation X) Determine if an instance is a subtype of, or part of, class X (e.g. Y member of X)
1.10.2 Other Spatial, temporal, semantic (above, younger, correlated, etc.)
1.11 Select map units that contain >10% of lithology X (or subtypes...)
1.12 Select normal faults within XYZ fault system
1.13 Select polygons for sed. rocks containing bedding measurements dipping >50 degrees
1.14 Report description
1.14.1 Report all bedding orientations from map unit Z (to file, to screen)
1.14.2 Multimedia. Report all figures (e.g. cross-sections) and images (e.g. geophysics) associated with this area, with unit X, etc
1.15 Select location points for samples with U-Pb zircon geochronologic data
1.16 Select all hornblende bearing plutonic rocks (requires default descriptions for rocks that do not have explicit mineralogy description but do have lithology classification)
1.17 Fractional analysis descriptions
1.17.1 Report most abundant constituent
1.17.2 Boolean-is constituent present
1.17.3 Boolean-is constituent present within fraction range (e.g. 10-40%)
1.18 Select structural horizons equivalent to the base of the Chatenooga Shale
1.19 Class relations
1.19.1 Identify map units by stratigraphic relations (e.g. all members of X; units containing X)
1.19.2 Identify map units by spatial relations (e.g. overlies X)
1.19.3 Identify map units by temporal relations (e.g. younger than X)
1.19.4 Identify map units by semantic relations (e.g. correlated with X)
1.20 Class-Description relations
1.20.1 Select map units that have arkosic sandstone as a protolith
1.21 Description relations
1.21.1 Select stretching lineation measurements that have associated foliation measurements for the foliation that contains the lineation
Map symbolization and cartography
1.22 Reclassify map units based on description (e.g. dominant lithology, stratigraphic age)
1.23 Reclassify map units based on relations with occurrences (e.g. containing planar measurements with certain dip ranges or magnitudes)
Standard spatial queries
1.24 Buffer spatial occurrence
1.25 Select occurrences that intersect selected occurrences (e.g. lines, polygons, etc.)
1.26 Select points within polygon
1.27 Select polygons adjacent to selected polygons
1.28 Select contacts that are truncated at faults
1.29 Report the total length of selected lines, and their average length
1.30 Select polygons with area >50 hectares

2 Classifications, Descriptions, and Relationships

Each item in this list represents a geologic feature that must be describable in the database system in order to address some aspect of one of the queries.
2.1 Geologic Age
2.1.1 Older/younger than
2.1.2 Intrusive age
2.1.3 Metamorphic age
2.1.4 Depositional age
2.1.5 Surface age
2.1.6 Fault movement age
2.1.7 Landslide movement age
2.1.8 Stratigraphic age
2.1.9 Absolute age
2.2 Contact
2.2.1 Thickness
2.2.2 Geometry
2.2.3 Exposure
2.2.4 Confidence
2.2.5 Relations to map units
2.3 Alteration
2.4 Chemical composition
2.5 Default (standard) description
2.5.1 Mineralogy for lithology class
2.5.2 Chemistry for lithology class
2.6 Lithology component in aggregated unit
2.7 Physical property
2.7.1 Density
2.7.2 Magnetic susceptibility
2.7.3 Magnetization direction
2.8 Lithology description
2.8.1 Grain size
2.8.2 Mineral composition
2.8.3 Sorting
2.8.4 Color
2.8.5 Fabric
2.8.6 Sedimentary structure
2.8.7 Biologic structure
2.9 Rock unit
2.9.1 Weathering color
2.9.2 Surface morphology Primary depositional morphology (glacial features) Weathering morphology Outcrop character (exposure quality)
2.9.3 Deposit genetic structures Sedimentary (bedding thickness, cross bedding,...) Diagenetic (syneresis cracks, salt dissolution breccia) Volcanic (Pillow structure in lava) Plutonic (schleiren)
2.9.4 Tectonic setting
2.9.5 Constituent lithology
2.9.6 Thickness
2.9.7 Diagnostic features
2.10 Continuous variation (isopleth) description, e.g.:
2.10.1 Magnetic field
2.10.2 Gravity field
2.10.3 Stratigraphic unit thickness Range Contours (isopachs) Grid
2.10.4 Depth to horizon (top unit, fault, unconformity...)
2.11 Fossils
2.11.1 Collection location
2.11.2 Taxonomic class
2.12 Structure orientation
2.12.1 Planar (bedding, foliation, joints, etc.)
2.12.2 Linear (lineation, axes, etc.)
2.12.3 Dip magnitude
2.12.4 Azimuth Range >, <
2.13 Metadata
2.13.1 Classification confidence
2.13.2 Measurement accuracy
2.13.3 Measurement precision Location uncertainty Resolution
2.13.4 Completeness
2.13.5 Spatial (e.g. projections)
2.13.6 Temporal (e.g. creation date, publication date)
2.13.7 Historical (e.g. data processing, inferences, causal processes)
Each item in this list represents a classification system (kinds of...), or concept, that is necessary to standardize descriptions. Classifications can be thought of as scientific vocabulary, while descriptions can be thought of as sentences that use a specific vocabulary to describe particular geologic features. Listed below is a list of the types of vocabulary identified in the examined queries
2.14 Surface morphology occurrence (independent of map units) e.g. Sink hole, Scarp, ridge crest, terrace, plateau ...
2.15 Lithology (fabric, mineralogy)
2.15.1 Hand sample
2.15.2 Outcrop
2.15.3 Map unit
2.15.4 Chemical classification
2.16 Geologic surfaces (or boundaries?)
2.16.1 Depositional contacts Conformable Non-conformable Unconformity Disconformity Angular unconformity
2.16.2 Intrusive contact
2.16.3 Fault Thrust/Normal etc (separation) Thrust/Normal etc (slip)
2.17 Rock body
2.17.1 Geometry (pluton, dike, sill,...)
2.17.2 Genetic origin Depositional environment Emplacement process Metamorphic setting
2.18 Alteration types
2.19 Geologic age; e.g.
2.19.1 Geologic Time scale
2.19.2 Orogenies (e.g. Nevadan, Laramide)
2.19.3 Stratigraphic sequences (e.g. Sauk sequence)
2.19.4 Magnetostratigraphic age
2.20 Formal stratigraphic units
2.20.1 Lithostratigraphic
2.20.2 Chronostratigraphic
2.20.3 Biostratigraphic
2.21 Tectonic setting
2.22 Rocks in hanging wall of fault
2.23 Stratigraphic order
2.24 Stratigraphic relationships
2.24.1 Between constituents in map unit
2.24.2 Between map units
2.24.3 Rank relations (contains, equivalent to, composes)
2.25 class-description relationship (e.g. proportion; is 10% of class X)
2.26 Description-description relationship
2.26.1 ss lineation-fault
2.26.2 fault-age
2.26.3 feature-orientation
2.27 Metamorphic rock-protolith
2.27.1 evolution (e.g. protolith B into rock C)
2.27.2 process (e.g. process A changed protolith B into rock C)
2.28 Stacking of mapping horizons (top Precambrian below top of Paleozoic below base of Quaternary)
2.29 Relative age (older than, younger than, overlaps older, overlaps younger, overlaps contained, overlaps covers, meets older, meets younger)

3 Operations

3.1 Create, edit and save object (e.g. metadata, classification, description, legend, spatial object, etc.)
3.2 Assign metadata information to any object
3.3 Assign classification to occurrence(s)
3.4 Generate classification scheme that aggregates other classification objects according to rules.
3.5 Attach text description to classes and occurrences (e.g. fault segment)
3.6 Assign relationship between and within classes, descriptions, and occurrences
3.7 System maintenance and update
3.7.1 Edit classification hierarchy
3.7.2 Create new map view (select extent, map projection, data to use, classification scheme, symbolization scheme; assign title)
3.7.3 Load legend (classifications and symbols)
3.7.4 Validate completeness of a new record.
3.7.5 Build legend for active map display (i.e. report all symbols used, and attach explanation text, layout sequence and rank of symbols, add legend headings)
3.8 Continuous description operations
3.8.1 Generate polygons for areas where unit is >50 feet thick (case where unit is ~continuous and discrete measurements can be gridded and contoured)
3.8.2 Generate polygons for parts of a particular folded rock unit where dip >25 degrees (standard gridding approaches don't work; need to determine area of influence for stucture measurements in the unit)
3.9 Symbolization
3.9.1 Assign symbol to selected geospatial occurrences
3.9.2 Assign symbol to classification
3.9.3 Save symbolization scheme for current map
3.9.4 Save map annotation

4 Actions

4.1 Select (find, identify)
4.2 Distinguish (differentiate)
4.3 Generalize
4.4 Create (generate)
4.5 Superimpose
4.6 Calculate
4.7 Summarize/Describe
4.8 Symbolize/Display
4.9 Predict
4.10 Explain

5 Spatial Relations

5.2 Contains (includes)
5.3 Overlies or underlies
5.4 Intersects
5.5 Overlaps
5.6 Is between
5.7 Is within distance
5.8 Is adjacent
5.9 Is parallel (orthogonal)
5.10 Is within depth