Abstract

The impact of computers on the data collection and associated activities of the Institute of Geological Sciences (NERC) has resulted in an expansion and diversification in the amount and types of data now processed as compared to the early19thcentury, when the Geological Survey used geological maps as an early method of data presentation. The Institute currentlyhas124 million items of computer-readable data available in 14 databank and database systems encompassing the fields of the deep subsurface geology of the UK landmass; hydrogeology; industrial mineral assessment; mineral economics; geochemistry; petrology; geophysics; and the geology of the UK continental shelf. These systems, their usage by the Institute’s geologists and their common features are described. Five common problem areas, namely the availability of adequate support resources, the need for data qualification, the need for data compatibility, the education of the user community and the need for maintaining the future integrity of the data, are briefly discussed. The use of data in these systems for manipulative and predictive purposes and their utilization in the consideration of complex geological and environmental science problems is increasing. This has involved the interrelation of data from more than one system as well as with data from data banks outside the Institute. This will to some degree have an impact on future operations, and a scheme for the interrelation of the Institute’s databanks and databases is discussed.

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