Geologists get new tool to manage multiple data

By Biplab Das
Published: Monday 30 June 2008

while geologists look through sandstone beds on a dried-up river to piece together what happened millions of years ago, volumes of data are generated. A new software may now help geologists with different kinds of data. It caters to special requirements of field-based studies with systematically loaded data on to a laptop generating thematic map of locations including directions, colours, shapes and sizes of stones.

Researchers from the geological studies unit of the Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, have developed the software, called the GeoReferenced Data Map (grdm). Traditionally, geologists recorded observations on paper and associated them with the location points marked on to base maps (aerial photographs and satellite imageries). Availability of portable computers changed that considerably.But tools such as geographic information system are expensive and cannot handle multiple values (more than one value of pebble size for example) during field studies. This led the Kolkata team to devise the software, which can manage multiple field values.

The software generates thematic maps of locations including directions, colours, shapes and sizes

"Field data are stored in a number of database tables. The software then generates a thematic map depending on the data stored," says Parthasarathi Ghosh, the lead author of the study published in the May issue of Computers and Geosciences.

During field studies, the software shows a scanned map of the area and the longitude and latitude of any point can be obtained. A researcher can then feed data on the location, shape, size, colour, text, picture, date, time and other such features.

"The tool is free and the source code is downloadable," says Ghosh. The tool can be used in other fields such as zoology, palaeontology and anthropology, he adds. Amit Kumar Bhattacharya, associate professor, Department of Geology and Geophysics, iit, Kharagpur, says, "The tool is going to be handy in the long run. But it should be simplified to make it more user friendly."

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