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The Virtual Research Vessel
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Virtual Research Vessel

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The East Pacific Rise (EPR) from 9-10°N is currently our best-studied section of fast-spreading mid-ocean ridge, and has recently been chosen as a RIDGE 2000 Integrated Study Site. During several decades of investigation, it has been explored by the full spectrum of ridge investigators, including chemists, biologists, geologists and geophysicists. These studies, and those that are ongoing, provide a wealth of observational data, results and data-driven theoretical studies that have not yet been fully utilized, either by research scientists or by professional educators. While the situation is improving, a large amount of data, results, and related theoretical models still exist either in an inert, non-interactive form (e.g., journal publications), or as unlinked and currently incompatible computer data or algorithms. Infrastructure is needed not just for ready access to data, but for linkage of disparate data sets (data to data) as well as data to models, in order to quantitatively evaluate hypotheses, refine numerical simulations, and explore new relations between observables.

The prototype of a computational environment and toolset, called the Virtual Research Vessel (VRV), was developed to provide scientists and educators with ready access to data, results, and numerical models.

While this effort is focused on the EPR 9N region, the resulting software tools and infrastructure should be helpful in establishing similar systems for other sections of the global mid-ocean ridge. The project included efforts to develop:

  • a virtual database to incorporate diverse data types (along with domain-specific metadata) into a global schema, allowing for web-query across different marine geology data sets, and an analogous, declarative (database-available) description of tools and models;
  • the ability to move data between GIS and the above DBMS, along with the tools to encourage data submission to archives;
  • tools for finding and viewing archives, and translating between formats;
  • support for "computational steering" (tool composition) and model coupling (e.g., the ability to run tool composition locally, but with access to additional data from the web; application programming interfaces (APIs) to support coupling, especially of programs that are running remotely; and help in writing data wrappers to publish programs);
  • support of migration paths for prototyped model coupling; and
  • export of marine geological data and data analysis to the undergraduate classroom (VRV-ET, "Educational Tool").

    VRV was funded by NSF Information Technology Research (ITR) grant ACI-0081487.

    Initial data contributors included:

    • University of Oregon Department of Geological Sciences
    • Oregon State University Department of Geosciences
    • UCSB Department of Geological Sciences
    • University of Washington Mid-Ocean Ridge Processes Group
    • Hawaii Mapping Research Group


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    Last update: September 9, 2005
    © 2001, D. Wright and OSU Webworks
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