Why do we need standardized science language?

Standardized science language is needed to increase the usability and comparability of information contained in geologic-map databases.

The typical map user might believe that terms occurring in map-unit explanations and in database fields have identical meanings from map to map and from region to region. This certainly is true for some specialized terms, and is even more true for more-generalized terms. However, for some terms found in geologic maps, subtle to significant differences in geologic meaning can occur from map to map. This happens for various reasons:

  1. The meaning of some terms changes subtly to significantly from generation to generation as academic traditions change, and as new analytical techniques and geologic perspective influence and mod
  2. ify research results and teaching curriculums. New and different science language commonly emerges from these activities;
  3. Some geologic terms once in vogue may completely disappear from the geologic lexicon as they are replaced with more accurate or precise terms or ones that better reflect current thinking;
  4. Some geologic terms take on meanings and applications specific to a particular geologic terrain or region; beyond that region, these terms may have a slightly different meaning;
  5. The field description and interpretation of earth materials and geologic structures is as much an art as a science, and is vulnerable to the experience, intuition, skill, and persistence of the geologic-map maker;
  6. In a climate of open and competitive academic research, scientists constantly are experimenting with new, more creative and more effective terminology to communicate information about earth materials that have complex combinations of composition, structure, fabric, and genesis.

For these reasons, the vocabulary (science language) of both historic and current geologic maps can vary—in some instances enough to create uncertainty on the part of the map user as to whether earth materials and geologic structures in one map are similar to or different from those in another. To minimize this problem, standardized science language that classifies and describes earth materials and their genesis is needed.

In short, in a diverse world of words, standardized terminology is useful to facilitate information exchange.