Intellectual Merit: A data management system for hydrothermal spring geochemistry - called VentDB - will be established for open access to the full range of compositional data acquired on seafloor hydrothermal vents from all tectonic settings. This system will allow legacy and future analytical data on hydrothermal springs and plumes to be professionally archived, managed, served, and integrated with related vent data and the broader Geoscience data set. VentDB will contain all published historical data as well as legacy and new data that investigators will contribute. VentDB will be developed and managed as part of the Geoinformatics for Geochemistry Program at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO) and the Center for International Earth Information Network (CIESIN), both at Columbia University, in collaboration with the University of Hawaii. VentDB is modeled after the successful online database for igneous and metamorphic rock geochemistry, PetDB, and the emerging data management system for marine sediment geochemistry, SedDB, providing fast, easy, and flexible access to integrated geochemical data sets from which users can extract any subset of data customized to their specific scientific problem, by means of the requisite supplementary information (metadata) that will be included in the database. The project deliverables encompass the implementation of the database and its population with a comprehensive legacy data set, the development of a web-based user interface and of web services for access to data holdings by client systems. The development of the VentDB system will make use of existing system components of the Service Oriented Architecture (SAO) that is applied to all data systems of the Geoinformatics for Geochemistry program. The user interface will feature interactive query tools, interactive maps, and tools for data quality evaluation and data analysis. It will be intimately linked and integrated with other geochemical, geological, geophysical, and biological data in EarthChem, the Marine Geoscience Data System MGDS (which includes the Ridge2000 and MARGINS DMS). Procedures for submission of new data by investigators will be coordinated with the MGDS.

Chemical data for seafloor hydrothermal springs are fundamental to the study of mid-ocean ridge and seafloor processes, ocean water chemistry, global geochemical cycles, as well as vent ecosystems and sub-seafloor biospheres. By facilitating access to the global geochemical data set for hydrothermal springs, VentDB will have a major impact on global geochemistry, microbiology, and ore deposits research. It will be a primary vehicle to enhance our understanding of the Earth System by allowing researchers to integrate data types and develop new cross-disciplinary approaches to scientific questions. We expect this project will result in many new fundamental insights and unanticipated conclusions that can only be drawn by the use of large databases, as we have seen for the PetDB database.

Broader Impacts: The development of information systems that make use of rigorous data management technologies, interchange tools such as markup languages, knowledge networking, data mining, and sophisticated visualization tools has a major impact on the application of geochemical data in research and Earth science education. By making scientific data easily accessible to students, they are being used in courses and giving Earth science students new appreciation for data manipulation and interpretation. The enhanced ability of researchers to integrate diverse data types will result in discoveries leading to better understanding of the Earth and eco-systems.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Bilal U. Haq
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Columbia University
New York
United States
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