Digital Rocks Portal: a sustainable platform for imaged dataset sharing, translation and automated analysis
Abstract:Recent advances in imaging have provided a wealth of 3D datasets that reveal pore space microstructure (nm to cm length scale) and allow investigation of nonlinear flow and mechanical phenomena from first principles using numerical approaches. This framework has popularly been called “digital rock physics”. Researchers, however, have trouble storing and sharing the datasets both due to their size and the lack of standardized image types and associated metadata for volumetric datasets. This impedes scientific cross-validation of the numerical approaches that characterize large scale porous media properties, as well as development of multiscale approaches required for correct upscaling. A single research group typically specializes in an imaging modality and/or related modeling on a single length scale, and lack of data-sharing infrastructure makes it difficult to integrate different length scales.
We developed a sustainable, open and easy-to-use repository called the Digital Rocks Portal, that (1) organizes images and related experimental measurements of different porous materials, (2) improves access to them for a wider community of geosciences or engineering researchers not necessarily trained in computer science or data analysis. Once widely accepter, the repository will jumpstart productivity and enable scientific inquiry and engineering decisions founded on a data-driven basis. This is the first repository of its kind. We show initial results on incorporating essential software tools and pipelines that make it easier for researchers to store and reuse data, and for educators to quickly visualize and illustrate concepts to a wide audience. For data sustainability and continuous access, the portal is implemented within the reliable, 24/7 maintained High Performance Computing Infrastructure supported by the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin. Long-term storage is provided through the University of Texas System Research Cyber-infrastructure initiative.