Monday, February 09, 2009

Rock scientists close on WMS network milestone

Earth and computer scientists are working together on a global project called OneGeology to produce the first digital geological map of the world. This project is doing the same for the rocks beneath our feet that Google does for maps of the Earth’s surface - and with 96 nations now participating OneGeology is closing in on an important milestone.

The goal of OneGeology is to make geological map data held by organizations around the World web accessible. Contributing to the OneGeology infrastructure involves offering to serve geological data by Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards-based Web Map Services (WMS) from a Web server which may be hosted within the Geological Survey of each nation. The WMS allows geologic maps to be accessed by anyone according to a vendor-neutral standard and overlayed on other maps using Google Earth, Gaia and other applications.

The OneGeology network has a “Cookbook” and some simple WMS naming conventions to make this spatial data infrastructure (SDI) work - and to keep things understandable. For the WMS service URL:

example = BGS_Bedrock_and_Superficial_Geology/wms

structure = .../ organisation_theme/wms

Note that within this structure the URL elements to the left of /cgi-bin/ are likely to indicate the server of the data e.g. shows it is BGS that owns this URL. The first part of the URL depends on the technical architecture and rules of the service providers. The second part, when possible (because it can depend on the WMS software capabilities), should have the same structure as the service title. The OneGeology Registry of services cannot be too strict about the left hand side of this rule as this naming could be partially out of the control of OneGeology service providers but the principle is - one separate WMS service for each 'country' being served and a completely separate service if the same 'country' is being served in one or more different languages. Provider organizations retain full ownership and responsibility and are able to change data whenever necessary.

So if you've ever wondered what our world would look like stripped bare of all plants, soils, water and man-made structures? Well wonder no longer- images of the Earth as never seen before are coming online in the world’s biggest geological mapping project ever.

- Jeff


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