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State Geological Survey Contributions to the National Geothermal Data System (NGDS) Update

Article Author(s): 

Kim Patten

“The project has uploaded an impressive amount of data that has been submitted by a large number of team members representing all 50 states.” From May 2012 DOE Peer Review.

Project Progress
As of June 2012 nearly all new data collection projects have cleared the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and are currently conducting new data collection efforts across sixteen states. For more information on the new data collection, please review the Spring 2011 Arizona Geology article. Since the original article, Pennsylvania was provided with additional funding for geophysical logging, including temperature, of groundwater wells in southeast and south central Pennsylvania to determine geothermal gradient. Fifteen existing deep wells were chosen for logging temperature, gamma ray, single point resistance, spontaneous potential, fluid resistivity, and normal resistivity. Data from all new data collection projects, including some of the new drilling projects in the Great Basin, should be available by the end of 2013.

As of June 2012, the State Geological Surveys contributed over 775 datasets representing over two million data points. Most of the datasets provided to the NGDS are portrayed as Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Map Services (WMS) and Web Feature Services (WFS), meaning that the data is compatible with a variety of visualization software. Web services are ideal for the NGDS data for a number of reasons including that they preserve data ownership in that they are read only and new services can be deployed to meet new requirements without modifying existing applications. 

Web Feature Services (WFS) provide data as geolocated, discrete entities (features) with associated attributes.  A feature type is analogous to a table in a database, and each feature instance is analogous to a row in the table. Thus, WFS can be thought of as a collection of database records, each of which has a geometry field that describes the entity of interest at that location. Feature services are a complete data file that is geographically represented. For example, NGDS includes a number of WFS on borehole temperature data. Users of the data can download the WFS, insert the data into their geographic information system or visualization software of choice, and run queries against the complete attributes associated with the service. Due to the large amount of data associated with the WFS, these services require quick internet connections.

In contrast to the data intensive WFS, the Web Map Service (WMS) provides a glimpse of the data through a georeferenced map image. While the map image may allow point queries, the WMS does not permit the end user to produce queries within and against the data. WMS is essentially a quick view of the data available and will provide a preview that end users commonly require before downloading the full data set. Web Map Services are particularly useful when attempting to superimpose map layers and images quickly in a web based environment. Generally WMS are reserved for initial observations whereas WFS are reserved for in-depth data layer queries.

As an example, we have pulled the currently available nationwide borehole temperature data from the NGDS in WMS. For more information about WFS, WMS, or the standards and protocols in place for the NGDS, please visit for general information and user’s tutorials and for the developer’s page.

Satellite Map of USA

Searching for and finding data within the AASG contributed data should be easier by the end of September. At that time, we are releasing a new, more user friendly search system that acts like the more familiar search interfaces of Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Central to this new search functionality are multiple search options associated with the end search result. For example, if your search returns a document, the tool will permit you to view “More Details” or the metadata associated with the product, view the “Show Area on Map” allows you to view the geographic bounding box, or the “Access Options “that provides a direct link to the document (if available) or the ability to contact the document’s owner/publisher. If the search result provides a WMS, you can quickly view the service in the map tool provided within the interface, or you can directly access the WMS capabilities XML, which will permit you to load the WMS into your visualization viewer of choice.  

State Geothermal Data search

While this search tool will make finding AASG data easier, there are currently a number of ways in which to find available data. One of the most useful tools available from not only acts as a data access and discovery tool, but as a mechanism for tracking progress in the U.S. states. Under the “Progress” tab at the homepage is the option to view the “Data Collection Status Map”, which allows the user to track progress either by state or nationwide using eight data categories. The eight categories – temperature & heatflow, water chemistry, recent tectonics, rock chemistry, well logs, map data, metadata & documents, and other – were selected based upon the thirty predetermined content models for the project.  A user can select one of the categories from the legend (located in the Gulf of Mexico) and see progress in each category across the nation; the darker the state appears in a particular category, the more data available. Figure 3 indicates nationwide progress on Temperature and Heat Flow data.

Figure 3-Temperature and Heat Flow Data Contributions

Alternatively, users may track the progress by state. Users may identify certain categories within a state, for instance Figure 4 shows the progress made uploading Oregon’s well logs. You can also request a state by state progress report from the drop down menu located directly underneath the map. This will show you the intended deliverables, actual deliverables, records online for deliverables, and tracking notes.

Figure 4-Well Log ContributionsIn addition to improved search functionality, we are releasing a new site near the end of September. This site is specifically designed for the public, while the current site serves as a project management site. The new site will provide the end users access to data, free visualization software, and information on how they can add pertinent data to the system. We look forward to launching this site just in time for the 2012 Geothermal Energy Association Industry Expo and Geothermal Resources Council Annual Meeting taking place in Reno, Nevada, in early October 2012.
Project Annual Review
For the second year in a row, the project has received “good” or “outstanding” review comments during the annual sponsor (Department of Energy) peer review. Each reviewer scored the project as “outstanding” the highest possible mark for relevance and impact of research. Comments include “the project is collecting a treasure trove of data assets from all of the state geological surveys” and “state level data discovery, access, and cataloging/tagging are crucial to the larger NGDS goals.” Also scored were the Scientific and Technical Approach; Project Management/Coordination; Accomplishments, Results, and Progress; Strengths; Weaknesses; and Suggested Improvements. Additional selected comments from the review include:
  • The approach for acquiring data appears to be exemplary. A huge amount of work has gone into developing procedures for data acquisition and formats for data submission.”
  • “There is a large and growing collection of information assets acquired from participating states; the incoming assets are being assessed and incorporated via a quality process; the assets, once acquired, are being managed and visualized via a capable information system.”
  • “The project has uploaded an impressive amount of data that has been submitted by a large number of team members representing all 50 states.”
  • “Project has a strong management component and outward facing exposition and consultation effort associated with it.”

Continuing Outreach
Over the next quarter, AZGS will be presenting and exhibiting the State Geological Survey Contributions to the National Geothermal Data System at three national conferences and expositions: Geothermal Resources Council/Geothermal Energy Association Annual Meeting and Conference, Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, and the American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting. Booth information is provided below.  We invite you to stop by the booth and test-drive the system.

Geothermal Energy Expo (GRC/GEA)
September 30 to October 3, 2012
Reno, NV
Booth 341
Additional Information:

Geological Society of America Annual Meeting
November 4 to 7, 2012
Charlotte, NC
Booth 635 (with the Association of American State Geologists)
Additional Information:

American Geophysical Union
December 3 to 7, 2012
San Francisco, CA
Booth 104
Additional Information:


Kim Patten

Project Manager
Arizona Geological Survey

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