Digital Curation of Earth Science Samples Starts in the Field
Abstract:Collection of physical samples in the field is an essential part of research in the Earth Sciences. Samples provide a basis for progress across many disciplines, from the study of global climate change now and over the Earth’s history, to present and past biogeochemical cycles, to magmatic processes and mantle dynamics. The types of samples, methods of collection, and scope and scale of sampling campaigns are highly diverse, ranging from large-scale programs to drill rock and sediment cores on land, in lakes, and in the ocean, to environmental observation networks with continuous sampling, to single investigator or small team expeditions to remote areas around the globe or trips to local outcrops. Cyberinfrastructure for sample-related fieldwork needs to cater to the different needs of these diverse sampling activities, aligning with specific workflows, regional constraints such as connectivity or climate, and processing of samples. In general, digital tools should assist with capture and management of metadata about the sampling process (location, time, method) and the sample itself (type, dimension, context, images, etc.), management of the physical objects (e.g., sample labels with QR codes), and the seamless transfer of sample metadata to data systems and software relevant to the post-sampling data acquisition, data processing, and sample curation.
In order to optimize CI capabilities for samples, tools and workflows need to adopt community-based standards and best practices for sample metadata, classification, identification and registration. This presentation will provide an overview and updates of several ongoing efforts that are relevant to the development of standards for digital sample management: the ODM2 project that has generated an information model for spatially-discrete, feature-based earth observations resulting from in-situ sensors and environmental samples, aligned with OGC’s Observation & Measurements model (Horsburgh et al, AGU FM 2014); implementation of the IGSN (International Geo Sample Number) as a globally unique sample identifier via a distributed system of allocating agents and a central registry; and the EarthCube Research Coordination Network iSamplES (Internet of Samples in the Earth Sciences) that aims to improve sharing and curation of samples through the use of CI.