PROBLEMS TO BE SOLVED
Environmental, Economic and Social management and assessment, and sustainable development of the European seas on the regional scale, normally require multinational effort by the states bordering the sea area in question. Such integrated management and assessment can be effective only if there is a high degree of compatibility, accessibility and inter-changeability in environmental data and information. This includes information held, or obtained, by the different organisations in each country that are carrying out investigations and/or providing information within the regional seas.
The first step towards achieving the necessary compatibility, accessibility and inter-changeability, is the development of uniform and standardised metadata formats for the “real data”, to be stored in a central metadatabase, and with user friendly access through the Internet.
An understanding of the nature of the seabed is an important factor in strategic marine management. The seabed is the focus of many oceanographic, biological and sedimentary processes. Interactions between these processes are complex, and require knowledge of marine ecosystems, seafloor resources and pathways of pollutants. The basis for forecasting the impacts of anthropogenic factors such as pollution in the marine ecosystem, and the management of the marine environment for sustainable use, is the construction of a pan-European knowledge base of existing seabed information, descriptions of where information and data are available, in which format and where can it be obtained.
Appropriate overviews of metadata (data which describes the real data) regarding the sediments of the European Seas, must be available and accessible to the end–user in a user-friendly system. Failure to address this issue will lead to continued storage of distributed data sets in widely varying formats and terminologies. Time spent in ascertaining the data sets that already exist for the European marine area would continue to be a significant cost to the varied end-users of marine data in the commercial, scientific and policy making sectors of the European Community.
SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES AND APPROACH
The objective of EUROSEISMIC is to generate and develop a central metadatabase for geophysical data derived from marine seismic surveys for the European Seas. EUROSEISMIC will establish a metadatabase on the Internet for marine geophysical survey data held by the marine departments of the European geological surveys and their project partners. It will consist of the following functionalities.
Data-entry with on-line data import module
On-line data edit
Data-retrieval by means of a map interface in combination with numerical extended search (allowing searches on mandatory and/or optional metadata fields)
GIS-based geographical interface for navigation and presentation
The impact of the EUROSEISMIC products will result in:
greatly improved access to available geophysical survey data for all European seas
overviews of metadata information required for marine environmental policy development, management strategies, and administration
improved exchange of data and information, at a total European level
increased public awareness of the marine environment
improved input for environmental research and fundamental scientific research
economic advantages for the marine industries
In combination with metadata for seabed samples and cores compiled by the European geological surveys during the EC-funded EUMARSIN (European Marine Sediment Information Network) Project, which combined with the EUROCORE project established the EU-SEASED Website, users will have ‘one-stop’ access to a significant amount of the publically available marine metadata that are available for the European seas.
Scientific / Technical Objectives and Innovation
The principal objective of EUROSEISMIC is to compile a metadatabase of seismic profiles which image the European seabed and sub-seabed and are held by the project partners. These data mainly include seismic profiles and sonar records accumulated by the project partners during the last thirty years, but will also include similar data from external organisations which are currently held by the project partners on a non-confidential basis.
The seismic metadata will include geospatial data recording the location of each seismic line which can be displayed on a map interface with the metadatabase. For each seismic record, suffcient metadata elements will be made available to allow the end-user to quickly ascertain the quality of the data resources and to assess if they are suitable for their requirements. A point of contact for further information about the data resource and the originator of the information will be provided to guide the user towards obtaining relevant data and information.
In addition to this ‘discovery’ metadata, more detailed metadata will be provided including survey equipment, record length, depth of penetration, record type (ie analogue or digital) and precision of the navigation system. The metadatabase will be made available on the EU-SEASED Website which will allow users to search and retrieve metadata on a map interface. User-defined searches may therefore be carried out by geographical location or metadata elements, or a combination of both.
Compilation from existing distributed sources of seismic data will necessitate standardisation to a common system of metadata recording in line with emerging metadata standards, such as ISO Standard 15046-15. This will eliminate data inconsistencies and improve access to poorly documented datasets. By doing this, EUROSEISMIC will make available for further use, the vast stock of seismic survey data and information collected in European waters.
EUROSEISMIC will therefore not only enhance the existing knowledge baseline by improving access to previous research resources but will also provide a mechanism and structure for the standardised compilation of metadata derived from future seismic surveys carried out in the European seas by government and academic researchers, applied scientists and industrial companies. To ensure that the metadata are comparable with external seismic metadatabases, the partners will consult with private industry-sponsored projects aimed at delivering commercial seismic metadatabases.
In addition, by utilising the existing EU-SEASED metadatabase structure operated by the project partners, EUROSEISMIC will bring immediate results to the end-user community. End-users will also be able to make input to the project through the ‘Community Pages’ of the Website, which will include an electronic newsletter, bulletin board and feedback platform. These pages will allow users to contribute their comments on issues related to seismic data and the type of metadata that they would find useful in the metadatabase.
EUROSEISMIC’s principal objective is therefore to give access to an essential source of information to stakeholders responsible for the management and sustainable development of the marine environment in a format that they are able to influence.
The geographic areas to be included in this project are the Norwegian Sea, the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel, the Bay of Biscay, the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and the western Black Sea. As the data will be compiled on the EU-SEASED Website, which holds global information on seabed samples and cores, the facility exists for the system to be expanded to include seismic metadata from a wider geographical area in the future.
The project partners have extensively surveyed the seabed and sub-seabed of the European seas over recent decades. Each national organisation has published the results of their research in the scientific literature and some have published maps showing the distribution of sediments on the seabed and below seabed. Data sources will be assessed during Workpackage 2 but these will include sonar surveys that image the seabed (sidescan sonar and multibeam bathymetry), low-resolution seismic data that penetrate deep below the seabed or seismic records produced by high-resolution but shallow-penetrating survey equipment.
As part of each national programme, the partners make available track charts and other information related to the seismic records either in catalogues or digital products, or in some cases through the Website of the organisation. The records produced during the seismic surveys are output in a number of formats, mainly on analogue paper charts but increasingly they are being stored digitally on a variety of tape media. Within EUROSEISMIC this diverse range of data types, equipment sources, method of recording, data quality and output formats will form the basis for the development of a standard format for recording detailed metadata. The metadata format will take account of the principles set out within the international context of the draft ‘ISO Standard 15046-15 Geographic Information – Metadata’ and ‘European Standard prEN 287009’.
The innovation of EUROSEISMIC principally addresses seismic data variability and lack of compatibility, and provides an opportunity to work towards standardisation. A number of EC-funded metadatabase projects exist which include similar types of data. These include the MAST III projects EUMARSIN and EUROCORE which together comprise the EU-SEASED metadatabase, SEISCAN, and the ESPRIT Programme GEIXS project which provides metadata for all datasets held by the European geological surveys. EUROSEISMIC complements and builds on these projects in that it provides more-detailed metadata, which give information for individual geophysical tracks. However, EUROSEISMIC will share a metadatabase with the EU-SEASED projects and link to the others in such a way to ensure that there is no duplication of effort or overlap in the project objectives.
In particular, the SEISCAN project that ended in December 2000 aims to compile metadata for geophysical data collected mainly in deep waters beyond the shelfbreak. It also has as a principal objective to scan archived seismic information held in analogue paper format so that these data are captured in digital format. EUROSEISMIC will complement this project by compiling metadata for geophysical traverse lines mainly from the shelf and platform areas of the European seas. Through an Internet link to the SEISCAN Website, data suppliers to EUROSEISMIC will be encouraged to transfer any scanned records which fulfil the SEISCAN criteria for data capture.
In addition, the principal innovative aims of EUROSEISMIC are:
To make the EUROSEISMIC metadatabase available through the Internet allowing easy and wide distribution of the end products to a large and varied community of end-users. The EUROSEISMIC partners have been active in assessing the end-user requirements for such a system.
To produce a complete inventory of the main non-confidential seismic data collections in the marine environment of the European research area.
Compilation of diverse metadata components leading to standardisation of all related definitions. This will ensure that end-users do not encounter discrepancies in metadata elements, which will save time and effort in data searches and, most importantly, increase the use of available data sources.
As the metadata will be held in an internet-based system with on-line editing and update features, the metadatabase will continue to evolve as new information becomes available, or as the area of interest is enlarged by the addition of new EU Member States.
EUROSEISMIC will provide a common platform for exchange of information between specialists involved in the acquisition and management of seismic survey data through the Community Pages of the EUROSEISMIC Website. The Community Pages will include an on-line newsletter, bulletin board and a procedure for receiving feedback from end-users as the project develops. By providing a platform for feedback, it will also improve communications between researchers and a variety of end-users that include regional government, governmental and inter-governmental policy makers, industry and education.
The EUROSEISMIC Community Pages will stimulate interest in the seabed from the community at large, by linking to the existing environmental information related to the seabed that exists within the EU-SEASED metadatabase. For example, the links will bring together industry users with an interest in seismic data from the point of view oil and gas exploration and production, with the data resources available to environmental groups assessing the impact of the hydrocarbon industry.
EUROSEISMIC will provide fundamental mapping information that will contribute to regional geoscience and environmental strategic planning. This will allow the end-user to differentiate various seismic survey projects, operational or research studies, and to identify individual seismic survey records that have been collected from the European seas.
The GIS format of the on-line map interface to the metadatabase will allow easy assessment of data distributions to be made, which will increase the efficiency of planning for future geophysical/seismic survey programmes either at national or international scale.
The consensus report of the EUROSEISMIC proposal acknowledged the importance of the metadatabase to ocean management. The report also recognised that integration of data ‘fosters the development of a critical mass of research infrastructures’. The final comment on the scientific/technological quality and innovation of the proposal stated ‘the database system must be capable of expansion to a wider geographic area’.
In accordance with these aims and to further the development of pan-European support for research infrastructures, the EUROSEISMIC project has expanded its geographical coverage to include partners from 6 of the 9 NAS countries which have maritime areas (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria). These partners will add considerable value to the amount of information that will be contained in the metadatabase system, and will also become part of a system to implement procedures of metadata standardisation across the Europan seas.
Project Planning and timetable
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Last Updated: 04/13/2004 11:59:59