Developing International partnerships for the harmonisation of solid Earth and environmental data infrastructures

Dr Lesley Wyborn1, Erin Robinson2, Dr  Tim Rawling3, Dr Simon  Cox4, Dr Ben  Evans1, Dr  Kerstin Lehnert5, Dr Jens  Klump6, Helen Glaves7, Dr  Kirsten Elger8, Shelley Stall9, Dr Mohan Ramamurthy10

1National Computational Infrastructure, Action, Australia, 2Earth Systems Information Partners, Boulder, United States of America, 3AuScope, Melbourne, Australia, 4CSIRO Land and Water, Clayton South, Australia, 5Lamont Doherty Observatory, Palisades, United States of America, 6CSIRO Mineral Resources, Kensington, Australia, 7British Geological Survey, Keyworth, United Kingdon, 8GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany, 9American Geophysical Union, Washington, United States of America, 10Unidata, Boulder, United States of America


Solid Earth and Environmental science data is collected globally by large numbers of organizations and from multiple sectors (academic, government, industry, public) and many of these data are available online. Accessing and integrating these distributed data resources increasingly requires international networks that enable the data to be reused for purposes beyond what it was collected for. However, given that each sector has different drivers, it is not surprising that the data in many of these online resources has inconsistent and incompatible data descriptions and formats, and as much as 80% of data processing effort is the spent on discovering, cleaning and converting pre-existing data so that it can be reused.

Currently there are established national efforts creating eResearch infrastructures that help connect solid Earth and environmental researchers including the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) and the NSF’s EarthCube program in the US, AuScope and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) in Australia, whilst in Europe there is the Environmental Research Infrastructure Plus (ENVRIplus) and European Plate Observing System (EPOS). All are linking data, cyberinfrastructure and research developments across the academic and government sectors.  Furthermore, more generic software from standards bodies now support many of the core requirements directly (e.g., W3C’s DCAT metadata vocabulary, W3C/OGC’s SOSA/SSN observations and sampling ontology, DataCite identifier and metadata systems).

What is needed now are mechanisms to internationally link these national efforts to provide not only efficiencies in funding, but also an environment where the research efforts can create globally interoperable networks of solid Earth and environmental science data, information systems, software and researchers.


Lesley Wyborn is an Adjunct Fellow at both the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI) Facility and the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University (ANU). She had over 40 years’ experience in scientific research and in transparent management of geoscientific data in Geoscience Australia. Her scientific research interests are in Mineral Systems analysis and in granite geochemistry whilst her current informatics interests are in global integration of transdisciplinary data sets, enabling in situ analytics in virtual research environments, and in generating High Performance Data sets.  She is currently Chair of the Australian Academy of Science ‘Data for Science Committee’ and is on the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Data Management Board. In 2014 she was awarded the Australian Government Public Service Medal for her long-term contributions to the management of Australian Public Sector Geoscience Data and in 2015, the Geological Society of America Career Achievement Award in Geoinformatics.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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