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Several types of fundamental ontological relations connect the endurant (continuant) and perdurant (occurrent) entities in every domain. These include: instantiation, parthood, location, and connection relations, and those that are derived from them, such as adjacency, overlap, containment, and coincidence. Some of these types of relations, and their subtypes, are formally defined in the context of the Web Ontology Language (OWL) for a variety of endurant geological examples, mostly from the Nankai Trough in southwest Japan and the San Andreas fault in California. Here, the foundational ontological relations are discussed to show their application in building useful earth science ontologies. These relations, defined as properties in OWL, are given in the context of the Resource Description Framework (RDF) triples and their relationship to relational databases.

The role of properties in providing semantics, reasoning, and knowledge structuring and representation is discussed for various ontological relations. The semantics of classes are provided by the metaproperty and restrictions of the properties that use these classes as domain and range. Types of properties are described from different perspectives and for different purposes. Property subclassing, through OWL's subproperty construct, is used to restrict properties. The formal definitions of the foundational taxonomic (isA), partonomic (partOf), location (locatedIn), containment (containedIn, componentOf), and topologic (overlap, adjacentTo) relations, at the class and instance levels, are given in first-order logic for continuant geological entities. Geologic examples for several other basic relations such as derivesFrom, transformationOf, and absorb are also given.

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