The Role of Computer Science in Geoinformatics
Department of Computer Science / Geology
Central Michigan University
The geosciences have made significant advances during the past few decades, with the aid of computer technologies in such areas as scientific computing and visualization, telemetry and data acquisition, massively parallel supercomputer simulations, large-scale databases and the cyberinfrastructure in general. Immersive environments enable geoscientists to visualize geologic formations in 3D, virtual reality environments enable things like real-time geosteering of deep boreholes, and real-time telemetry enable the ability to transmit data acquired from downhole data acquisition sensors. The use of this and other computer technology to solve real-world problems in the geosciences is part of a discipline called geoinformatics.
This talk describes what geoinformatics is and how information and computer technology are used in the geosciences. A general overview of geoinformatics will be given, followed by specific examples via source code and case studies. The use of geographic information systems (GIS), web services, knowledge representation, and geostatistical modeling and simulation will be presented. In particular, a case study examining the use of non-Euclidean distance metrics to model surficial dioxin distributions near Midland, MI will be presented. Current developments in cyberinfrastructure development for the geosciences will be presented as well, with a focus on the technologies used to build the cyberinfrastructure. Lastly, the use of asset teams will be discussed at oilfield software companies like Schlumberger and Halliburton, highlighting the importance of teamwork and communication in the solution of domain-specific problems.