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Svalbox: A Geoscientific Database for High Arctic Teaching and Research


Competitive advantage is granted those that can quickly analyze all relevant data sets within a study area. This is equally valid in industry as in academia, where we train students for careers within, amongst others, the energy sector. On Svalbard, the Norwegian high Arctic archipelago, we at the University Centre in Svalbard (UNIS) educate over 300 geology undergraduate and postgraduate students every year. We also host field excursions held for oil companies interested in better understanding the geological evolution of the Barents Shelf. All field activities on Svalbard are highly dependent on the seasons (polar darkness vs midnight sun), transportation (snowmobiles, boats or walking) and HSE considerations (harsh weather, polar bears etc.). To overcome some of these challenges we utilize emerging technologies like photogrammetry to produce cost-efficient virtual outcrop models of key outcrops, and use these both when planning field excursions and for post-excursion analyses. The virtual outcrop models form an integral part of the Svalbox database, which links existing surface and subsurface data in a 3D environment within an industry-standard software package, Petrel. Svalbox includes georeferenced maps (geological, tectonic, paleogeographic) at different scales, terrain models, bathymetric data, published stratigraphic logs, seismic data, TEM/MT data, exploration well logs with well tops, grav-mag data, published cross-sections and satellite images. Web map services with relevant information are streamed directly to Svalbox. All data are correctly placed in geographical and depth position, and the database is continuously updated through new publications. A simple velocity model allows the correlation of the onshore depth-domain data sets with the time-domain seismic data. Some data sets are available under certain restrictions, manageable by having different projects feeding data based on permissions. The Svalbox database generates course-based projects for students at UNIS, essentially a three-dimensional reading list. In addition, it allows saving time on building databases when establishing new research projects or compiling regional studies of the Svalbard archipelago. Furthermore, we have developed a public portal at www.svalbox.no that allows anyone interested to see some of the data available on Svalbard’s unique geology. In this contribution, I will present the internal and external parts of Svalbox and outline some of the user experiences from 2 years of activity.