Geological Information Exchange
Since the mid 1990s, digital computing technologies have dominated geological map production and database management of regional geology data. The digital environment allows alternative and powerful ways of finding, accessing, analysing and visualising our geological information.
International standards and interoperability.
International standards are important for the functional exchange of geological information. These standards are particularly useful for understanding information across borders or in different languages. While neither of these is a significant issue within New Zealand there are benefits to embracing these standards, such as easing the information uptake by overseas-based resource exploration companies and capitalising on international work in defining and rationalising geoscience terminology. The Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI, part of the International Union of Geological Sciences) has an Interoperability Working Group which is developing standards to enable seamless internet integration of geological data hosted by different agencies. The CGI Geoscience Terminology Working Group is developing multilingual vocabularies for geoscience and earth resources information. New Zealand is involved in both working groups.
Web services for geological maps.
The OneGeology web portal is an international example of the implementation of interoperability standards. Another is GNS Science's geological webmap which can be viewed with internet browser software such as Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer and Google Chrome. They show geological information in a map context with topographic features. Various features can be interrogated for more specific information and some webmaps allow searching for specific values or characteristics. These applications utilise web map services (WMS) and web feature services (WFS) for their content.
Web services for rock information.
The PETLAB geoanalytical database of rock and mineral samples and where measured their composition and physical properties, are accessible through a webmap application and as web map and feature services.
Geological maps as scanned images.
QMAP 1:250 000 geological maps are available for download in low-resolution MrSID format. A major project is underway to acquire and make accessible scanned images of the Regional Geological Map Archive and Datafile (RGMAD) collection. The scanned maps will be searchable via a metadata catalogue and will be viewable using an internet browser via map image server software in 2013.
3D Visualisation of the subsurface.
The rapid growth in software capabilities matched with computer performance improvements has made 3D geological modelling a viable research tool and a practical visualisation technique. The modelling software being used includes LeapfrogGeo, GSI3D and Gocad, each with different strengths and capabilities. These all use drill hole data to constrain geological surfaces below ground and geophysical data such as aeromagnetics provide additional constraints. 3D geological models enable the geologist develop and to show their understanding of subsurface rock distribution and inter-relationships. 3D models are part of the geological map product suite for the Urban and Resource projects.