North American Data Model Steering Committee

Notes of meeting June 4-5, 2003, Millersville, PA


  1. Steve Richard was welcomed as a new member of the NADMSC. The Committee now has 6 AASG members, 4 USGS members, and two GSC members. Additional representation from Canada is encouraged.

  2. Data Model Design Team - this team continues to work steadily on the new conceptual data model, NORTON. It is expected that within 3-4 months (i.e., before the next Committee meeting at the GSA meeting in Seattle), NORTON will be ready for review. Version 0.9n will be posted now, so Committee members can provide preliminary comment, especially on field names. The DMDT will meet sometime in June or July, to continue working on NORTON. When NORTON is ready for review, the DMDT will notify the Committee one week before sending them the document. Upon receipt of the NORTON document, Committee members will be given one week to respond with comments. Then, the document will be revised, posted to the DMDT web site, and sent to external reviewers according to a plan to be developed later. At some time, perhaps at or before the next Committee meeting, there needs to be a formal check to ensure that SLTT concepts are fully addressed in the data model design. When we're ready to publish NORTON, it will be released as both a USGS and a GSC Open-file report. [NOTE: shortly after the meeting, it was decided that a separate AASG publication would not be feasible or necessary.] When the report is ready, we will notify the FGDC, AASG, AIPG, and GEON, but we will not advertise as we did for the NADM User Survey.

  3. Interaction with GEON - GEON is considering a workshop at San Diego Supercomputing Center (SDSC) to sort out how they might implement NORTON and how they will interact with the National Geologic Map Database. Bertram S. is the SDSC contact for data models. Boyan will provide information as it becomes available. Dave will identify the principal USGS liaison to GEON - is it Zoback or Gundersen?

  4. ESRI Geology Data Model - after meetings to discuss implementation of NORTON concepts into a geodatabase model for geologic information, ESRI posted to their website a white paper authored by Steve Grisť and Boyan. Boyan expressed a concern that the document was presented in a manner that suggested finality, and will ask ESRI to change its presentation to reflect its tentative nature.

  5. Collaboration with GSs in the European Union (EU) - in response to NADMSC/ESRI collaboration on a ESRI geology data model, members of European geological surveys have expressed interest in collaboration. This prompted an email exchange with Boyan, regarding the scope of collaboration (e.g., whether the data model would serve principally as an interchange format, whether to concentrate on data model concepts or the ESRI implementation). It seems that the EU might prefer collaboration on the conceptual data model as an interchange format, but it may be too soon to know for sure. Because they mostly have data models already developed in ESRI-based systems, they may be less interested in the ESRI Geodatabase implementation. The Committee viewed the EU's interest as positive, anticipating that it will provide more exposure for the data model and wider use, and new ideas to improve its concepts and design. The Committee decided to: A) propose to form an informal affiliation with the EU surveys, and perhaps eventually to propose a working group under the IUGS CGI; and B) maintain the Committee as an independent entity. We will begin by asking Boyan to set up a meeting with some technical-level EU people, perhaps at the ESRI annual meeting, and no later than the GSA annual meeting. Before the meeting with the EU, we will ask them to review NORTON.

  6. Data Interchange Technical Team - XML schemas will be built to validate various parts of NORTON (e.g., earth materials); the DITT is evaluating which schema style is best. After the DMDT's meeting in June/July, the DITT will build an example schema to show to the EU at the planned meeting; this should appeal to the EU because they are interested in the data model as an interchange format. A more comprehensive interchange schema will be available at the next Committee meeting.

  7. Documentation Technical Team - Rob described progress to build a document, targeted mostly to managers, that addresses "why do we need a data model?" The document will note that it is acceptable to retain an agency's existing data model, but will describe the value of large or small changes to it, to facilitate easier translation to NORTON and to the Science Language reference standard. Rob will send us a revised draft. When the document is in final form, we will provide Powerpoint and PDF files on the Committee website for people to use when they have discussions with managers.

  8. Science Language Technical Team - a lengthy discussion included authorship, format, and status of subgroup reports.

    Regarding authorship, the Committee decided several years ago that all reports must be authorless, and after some discussion it reaffirmed that decision; authorship by committee instead of by individuals follows precedents established by other committees and standards bodies (e.g., NRC, ASTM, North American Stratigraphic Commission). The Committee strongly encourages authors to publish in journals a summary of their work. Jon will show the Committee a draft of the document he will send to the subgroups explaining the Steering Committee's decision on authorship.

    Regarding the format of each subgroup report, they will be chapters of an Open-File Report, issued simultaneously by the USGS and by the GSC. [NOTE: shortly after the meeting, it was decided that a separate AASG publication would not be feasible or necessary.] Dave and Boyan will discuss with their publications groups any problems with simultaneous review and publication. When the reports are ready, we will notify the FGDC, AASG, AIPG, and GEON, but we will not advertise as we did for the NADM User Survey. A question arose -- can Web release (formal or informal?) precede OFR publication? Each chapter will be separately versioned, as needed. The title of each report will be determined later; a proposed draft citation is "Science Language of the North American Data Model Steering Committee, date, A draft science language for Metamorphic Rocks: U.S. Geological Survey Open-file Report 03-xxx, Chapter C, n pages, version 1.0." However, this draft citation may be significantly modified before the reports are prepared for publication.

    Regarding the status of the subgroup reports:

    1. Plutonic - this subgroup adopted with slight modification the BGS classification and figures; Jon will verify that BGS will permit this, or whether we should just endorse the BGS schema.

    2. Metamorphic - this report is in good shape. They have proposed the term "composite genesis origin", which could replace "metamorphic rock" as the top-level term. Jon will ask the subgroup to make ready for the web in two months their current (or revised) report.

    3. Volcanic - Jon will discuss with subgroup leaders their report, and the comments from reviewers, and decide whether the report can be ready for the web in two months.

    4. Sedimentary - this report is quite comprehensive, and includes a glossary and picklist. The report does not use terms defined by multiple attributes (e.g., "shale"), which in some cases have ambiguous definitions; however, many of these terms are in common usage and must be integrated with the standard terms. Therefore, Steering Committee members will provide this subgroup with commonly-used terms that need to be defined and included in the standard, and will indicate where those terms fit within the standard.

    5. Surficial (unconsolidated materials) - Jon and Dave will develop a draft, by September.

    Regarding revisions to the published reports - this will occur as needed, and we'll discuss it again at the next Steering Committee meeting. Regarding integration of the five subgroup reports - we'll first evaluate reviewer comments and then decide how to proceed.

  9. NADMSC Web site - the site may need some updating. Committee members will provide comments to all members of the Committee. If suggested changes are in conflict, Dave will summarize and suggest a resolution.

  10. NADMSC logo - these is no interest in a logo now; the acronym will suffice.

  11. Next meeting - during the GSA Annual meeting, in Seattle during the first week of November.