Sunday, March 15, 2009

Bringing order to the Neogene

The International Stratigraphic Commission has started an interesting discussion on the future of the Neogene and Quarternary on it's new bulletin board. Two position papers on the definition of the boundaries of the Quaternary, Pleistocene, Neogene and Pliocene are presented there.
These proposals have been submitted by the ICS Quaternary Subcommission (QS) and the ICS Neogene Subcommission(NS) and they heavily differ ... here is a short summary of the two positions:

  • QS proposes a Quarternary System succeeding the Neogene but the NS wish a Quarternary Subsystem of Neogene which extends to present
  • Both agree that the base of the Quarternary will be lowered from 1.8 to 2.6 Mio years
  • QS proposes to lower the bottom of the Pleistocene to the GSSP of the Gelasian Stage wheras the NS proposes the subdivision of the Pliocene in a Upper and Lower Pliocene where the upper Pliocene=Quarternary
  • The NS regards the Geliasian as part of the Pliocene while the QS includes the Geliasian to the Pleistocene.
The complete position papers can be viewed at

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

iGeoInfo - An Obituary

When the "International Coalition for Geoinformatics" (iGeoInfo) was launched at the 2004 International Geological Congress in Florence, Italy, it seemed like the next hot thing, bringing together efforts in the US and Europe in "Coordinating GeoInformatics Efforts in Sedimentary
Geology and Paleobiology." (Klump, Jens, Robert Huber, u. a. (2005), Workshop Launches International Coalition for GeoInformatics, EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union, 86(3), 27-28.)

At the time, the cyberinfrastructure programme in the US was not even a year old and with CHRONOS and GEON two major projects had been launched. Sedimentary geology and palaeontology, two traditionally fractioned fields, had to make sure they don't fall by the wayside.

Meanwhile, the scene has changed dramatically. CHRONOS has faded away, GEON is only a shadow of its former self, and PaleoDB is scrambling for the necessary funds. New kids have appeared on the block and seem to be far more popular with the community, which also translates into NSF support. Being less bullish with the community than the old champs seems to pay off.

As CHRONOS faded away it also let go of the domain and iGeoInfo became virtually homeless. A few attempts were made to revive it, but the absence of a common goal led the remaining participants to the conclusion that this wandering soul could now be put to rest.

iGeoInfo may rest in peace.

Geoblogosphere News: Community involvement and hidden feature

Some of you already noticed (and clicked) the nice 'favorite' icons/links which now appear near each blog post summary at Geoblogosphere News. If you like a blog post you can now recommend it by clicking on it's star icon, the number of recommendations is then displayed beneath the icon.

This is my first 'real' community involvement experiment with Geoblogosphere news (except the 'add blog' page) and I hope you like it?
In the moment the recommendation procedure is very basic,I will surely have to add one additional step which will ask you to confirm the recommendation (you just recommended blog post XY are you sure Y/N?) and maybe some captcha to avoid 'geoblogospheric recommendation robots' ;)).

Ah.. and there is a hidden news feed functionality I have not documented before:
If you want to see blog posts in a distinct language only in your feed, just add the parameter &lang=. For example the feed URL for english posts only is

Monday, March 9, 2009

Geosciences e-Journals

Bruno Granier just sent an interesting link to the paleonet newsgroup:
Geosciences e-Journals is a new portal for freely available (Open Access) geoscientific journals. It provides an impressive collection of links to open access journals and contains much more valuable information such as editorial board members, author instructions etc..

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Updated website of the International Stratigraphic Commission

The website of the International Stratigraphic Commission has recently been updated. The content is more or less the same, but the structure looks better now. For example, access to the latest Stratigraphic Chart now is offered immediately at the start page. I like the new design, the site looks much nicer than before.

In an earlier post I have commented on ICS's chart publication and update strategy which obviously has nor changed: Still there is no version information available but at least the chart now contains the publication date in its title and file name. Older versions of the chart are still not available at
Interestingly, now has a web forum (!) so ICS is probably looking for some public dialog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ageparser is reaching beta status

This week I finally found some time to care a bit about my Ageparser tool. Ageparser is a text mining service which is able to find stratigraphic terms within a text/document. In a second step, these terms are used to find their chronostratigraphic age in the Agenames database.
The idea was to provide a service which would analyze a text and determine it's chronostratigraphic context. You could upload a document and it would say: this text is about the Cretaceous.
However, in some cases Ageparser gave some very strange results, e.g. if it discovered the term 'Canadian' in a document it returned 'Lower Ordovician' as possible stratigraphic context. I therefore had to implement something which at least gives an estimate on the credibility of such an age determination.
The current solution is that Ageparser calculates a credibility index (between 0 and 1) which is based on the frequency of a determination as well as on the diversity of terms for a given age. The assumption behind is that the credibility of a age determination better if e.g. someone uses many different stratigraphic terms (different formation names or stages) of a distinct system.
So I think Ageparser is now ready to leave the alpha status and get beta now.. well and I have to start to prepare a publication on it.