North American Data Model Steering Committee

Notes of meeting November 15, 2000, Reno, Nevada




  1. Presentation by Simon Cox:

    Simon described his efforts within the CSIRO to develop an XML encoding of exploration and mining data. In part, his goal is to develop a ISO/TC211-compliant standard feature model for geologic information, defined in UML, with XML encoding to permit the transporting of data among various scientists, agencies, and companies. This data transport will allow for real-time "data fusion" via a web browser ("fusion" = combining data from various sources). Data fusion has been demonstrated by Open GIS Consortium and is applied in ESRI's ArcIMS, and will be facilitated within the geoscience community by standards development efforts such as those described by Simon. To permit the NADMSC to better absorb the presentation's content, Simon plans to distribute his powerpoint file to us.

    Simon offered to collaborate technically with the NADMSC, initially by exchanging member e-mail lists to encourage exchange of technical information and results of meetings, and by adding links from one another's web sites. The NADMSC approved this action.

  2. Presentation by Murray Journeay:

    Murray provided a progress report on the Canadian Geoscience Knowledge Network (CGKN) and the Canadian Geoscience Data Model Working Group. Murray also discussed results of the June 4-5, 2000, Calgary workshop to define a data model for organizing geoscience data on the Internet. Copies of the workshop report are available from Murray.

    The CGKN prototype CORDLINK project was described in some detail. CORDLINK provides public access to integrated geologic map and supporting text and image information, and demonstrates the feasibility of providing a "library" of related scientific information that resides at various sites. The prototype CORDLINK web site is <>, and the project is described at <>.

  3. Progress reports from the Technical Teams:

    1. Science Language Technical Team (SLTT) -- Jon Matti reported that the Team met for a half-day earlier in the week, to develop the plan to produce a draft hierarchical standard classification for rock descriptions. Because of the complexity of the task, the subject will be subdivided into five groups: Plutonic, Volcanic, Metamorphic, Sedimentary, and Surficial. The Plutonic group will be led by Ron Kissler and Doug Morton (both USGS), and currently has about 10 members. The Volcanic group will be led by Steve Ludington (USGS), and currently has about 10 members; an additional group leader may be added. The Metamorphic group will be led by Wright Horton (USGS) and Steve Richard (AZ GS), and has about 8 members. The Sedimentary group does not yet have a group leader, and has about 10-15 members. The Surficial group will be led by 3 persons, each representing different expertises; they are Dave Miller (USGS, western region), Dave Soller (USGS, eastern region), and an unnamed person from the central U.S. or Canada. This group has about 15 members.

      In early 2000, Jon conducted a "20-questions" exercise among the Team to elicit ideas on how a digital geologic map might be queried, and scientific information derived. Jon compiled the results and forwarded them to the NADMSC.

      Jon noted that, by April 15, 2000, each group will develop their classification; by April 30, it might be possible to integrate these classifications and produce a draft report to the NADMSC. Before the task can be accomplished, certain group leaders remain to be chosen (as noted above). Jon will pursue additional group representatives from Canada, and also from academia and industry, as appropriate.

      To build the classification before the April, 2000, deadlines, it is almost certain that travel will be required, to bring together each group for at least one meeting. Because of the complexity inherent in devising a surficial geologic classification, Jon plans to hold a series of workshops, each bringing together a subset of the group (and additional invited participants) who are experienced in a specific category of surficial geology. For example, there likely will be workshops to address the surficial deposits of arid, glaciated, and fluvial landscapes, among others. The NADMSC supports the plan for the workshop series and preparation of the draft classification that Jon outlined. As expressed at the previous NADMSC meeting, funding to support this required travel remains problematic, and Jon will request funding from various sources.

      Dave Russ (USGS Eastern Regional Geologist) joined the meeting to discuss integration with the SLTT of a proposed surficial materials workshop in Rolla, MO. Dave is quite interested in a standard terminology for surficial deposits, and noted that different definitions exist within the geologic and soils communities, even for grain-size classifications. Within the geologic community, different approaches to classification exist; some favor a descriptive, physiographic approach whereas others prefer an approach based on geologic processes. Earlier this year, Dave Russ, John Pallister (USGS), and Dave Soller attended a meeting at the Missouri GS offices in Rolla, where plans for a workshop were proposed by state and university attendees; if this workshop is conducted as proposed, it likely will focus on a classification of fluvial and residual deposits, and is intended to provide input to the SLTT. To help ensure this, Dave Russ will contact the group planning the Rolla workshop, and refer them to Jon Matti.

    2. Documentation Technical Team (DTT) -- Citing insufficient time and resources, the new Team Chair, David Collins (KS GS) has, reluctantly, resigned. Loudon will resume duties as Chair, although he is only available for a limited amount of time. Dave will contact Collins, to ask if he is willing and able to help with the Team's activities. In light of this development, the NADMSC again discussed the goals of this Team; they decided that, because the data model continues to evolve, it is not wise to expend limited resources to fully document the existing version. Rather, it is more appropriate to develop a concise and well-written summary of data model concepts and the NADMSC's general plan as executed by the Technical Teams; this, essentially, is what Loudon originally proposed. It was suggested that we might contract with a technical editor, to work with the Team on this summary document. Loudon will send Dave an estimate of time needed to develop the document, and Dave will work to identify an editor and funding source.

    3. Data Interchange Technical Team (DITT) -- Bruce reported that he continues to work with XML, to become more familiar with its capabilities to support map data interchange.

    4. Requirements Analysis Technical Team (RATT) -- the opinion poll that was advertised and conducted earlier this year (see ) generally has fulfilled its objective to solicit new advice from the geoscience community. The NADMSC decided to close the poll, and will thank the Kansas GS for hosting it on their Web site. The Team will suspend operations until the Steering Committee gives it additional assignments.

      Although this Team is no longer actively working, requirements analysis work continues in other Teams (e.g., the Data Model Design Technical Team is now conducting a "use-case" analysis, based on the "20-questions" exercise generated by the SLTT earlier this year).

    5. Data Model Design Technical Team (DMDTT) -- the Team met for 1.5 days earlier this week, to review the many responses to the SLTT's "20-questions" exercise. It was decided that three Team members would work, in sequence, to condense the results into a core set of issues and necessary functions for the data model to perform; this work is expected to conclude by 1/1/01. At the same time, Jerry Weisenfluh will compile a list of map query and analysis concepts that the community feels are fundamental. Following these tasks, some Team members will engage in an experimental activity to examine the list of questions and answers, in order to identify categories of related questions, issues, and concepts. Finally, the Team will, by 3/30/01, develop use-cases for the core questions; this will be done by three groups, and then assembled and documented by the end of April for submission to the NADMSC prior to its next meeting. Following the next Committee meeting, the use-cases will be considered during a review of the existing data model, as a means to evolve it. At some time next year, therefore, a new or revised NADMSC data model may emerge.

    6. Tool Development Technical Team (TDTT) -- the status of the map data entry tool "Geomatter II" was discussed. This past summer, Eric Boisvert completed another round of bug fixes, resulting in a more stable tool. It is not yet, however, Windows2000-compliant. Additional tables are now implemented (e.g., Bruce's LithClass v.6 list of rock unit descriptions). Additional programming assistance, leading to a more publicly-accessible version of the tool, is expected when Peter transfers to the USGS eastern region.

  4. GSC/USGS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):

    Dave reported that the MOU Annex requested by the USGS and GSC Directors at their meeting in late 1999 has been drafted. Its title is "Development of standardized national geologic map databases." The document was given a quick review by the NADMSC and the GSC (through Peter Davenport), and submitted to Pat Leahy (USGS Chief Geologist) for signature. It is anticipated that his signature will be obtained soon, and the document then will be submitted to the GSC for consideration. The NADMSC will be kept informed of its progress.

  5. Discussion of Canadian - U.S. Collaboration on the data model and regional mapping:

    To increase Canadian participation in the NADMSC, it was noted that Peter Davenport (GSC) should become a Committee member, representing the CGKN. Dave will contact Peter to discuss his interest in serving on this Committee. Also, Jon will contact Ron Dilabio (GSC) regarding his interest in participating as a leader of the SLTT Surficial group.

    Murray and Dave described Canadian and U.S. initiatives to develop national-scale digital geologic map databases for both bedrock and surficial deposits. They agreed to share within the next month the relevant plans and proposals, and to work to identify collaborative opportunities for Canadian and U.S. projects and personnel. The Committee will be kept informed of these activities.

  6. FGDC Data Model Proposal:

    In discussions with prospective SLTT members, Jon has been asked to identify the NADMSC's sponsoring entities, and its justifications to proceed with development of the NADM. The U.S. Geologic Mapping Act and the FGDC standards-development process provide the justification. In 1997, the FGDC Geologic Data Subcommittee proposed development of a standard geologic map data model; the model's development was intended to be conducted by the NADMSC's predecessor, the AASG/USGS Data Model Working Group. This proposal was submitted for public comment, and then accepted by the FGDC (see <>). It is, however, out of date, and could be updated to better address current NADMSC goals and timetables. Dave will ask the FGDC how to update the standards proposal.

  7. Miscellaneous:

    The U.S. Forest Service (Andy Rorick) has contacted Dave, regarding the possibility of jointly developing a FGDC standard for geomorphic classification, under auspices of the FGDC Geologic Data Subcommittee. Jon may want to consider whether the SLTT could, at some time in the future, provide scientific assistance in development of this classification. Pending comments from Jon and the Committee, Dave will discuss with Andy the feasibility of proposing a FGDC standard. The FGDC standards proposal process requires statements on the development approach, and it is logical that the NADMSC (specifically the SLTT) could be a major contributor to this standard.

    Murray noted that the national-scale maps noted in #5 above could be a major resource to DLESE (Digital Library for Earth Science Education). For more information on this new initiative, see <>.

  8. Next meeting:

    The next meeting will be held during the week of the Digital Mapping Techniques meeting, in Tuscaloosa, AL (May 20-23, 2001). Meeting date and time will be determined in early 2001.