An overview of the marine geological database activity at the U.S. Geological Survey, Woods Hole, Massachusetts, is presented. Spatially-dependent, time-dependent, and topical data are collected. Major categories of data include navigation, seismicity, grab-samples and cores, photo and scanner, gravity, magnetics, physical oceanography and cruise management. Research projects in all categories generate large volumes of data that must be stored and retrieved. Seismic projects, for example, generate 700 tapes of raw seismic data each year. In order to locate data for further analysis and reference, a database index is being devized. Because of the large size of the overall database, data sets have been assigned to either active or archival status. Retrieval programs have proved to be more useful than a Data Base Management System (DBMS) in marine geologic database activity.
A major concern is the design of interactive application programs that treat retrieved data. The user interfaces are intentionally as uncomplicated as possible in order to facilitate user-computer dialogue. Data is regularly exchanged without side groups, and commercial bibliographic services employed.
Major database problems relate to the role of databases vis-a-vis project support and computer involvement, the relevance of data to other than original projects, generation of data on hybrid devices, effect of delays in data reduction, database user education, file maintenance and financial support.
Database activity requires support because, given modern computing advances, databases are the basis for major advances in geology.