Getting More Meaningful Geological Information from the World Wide Web Using Semantic Webs
University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
A tremendous amount of potentially useful geologic information resides on the World Wide Web (WWW). This information, like all WWW content, is designed for humans to read or view, but not for computer programs to manipulate and analyze. The Semantic Web, as an extension of the current WWW, adds context to this information and provides inference rules to enable computer programs (agents) to process this information. There are several basic components that make the Semantic Web possible. One consists of the ontologies that enhance the functioning of the Web through a set of concept domain inference rules. Semantic Web ontologies can help solve simple tasks such as improving the accuracy of Web searches, as well as complex ones by processing Web-based content using a knowledge structure and inference rules.
Specific to geological information, ontologies can enable a program to compare or combine information across two or more databases with different structures. Also, complex concept ontologies can be built as knowledge representation systems for various geoscience domains. Both the database and concept ontologies will give the geoscience community greater research and education capabilities. These new technologies will be able to analyze various concept representations and their related data creating a virtual environment where the geoscience community can work and learn together. The work presented is a chronostratigraphic relational database ontology that was built in order to integrate several legacy paleontological databases and share their content with the world via a cyberinfrastructure portal developed by the NSF-sponsored GEON (Gyberinfrastructure for Geosciences) project.