Press Archive

The Show Must Go On: Despite Wildfires, SDSC Hosts NSF CHRONOS Meeting

Published 11/18/2003

SDSC hosted a workshop for the NSF CHRONOS Earth System History project on Oct 27th-28th, 2003. Although the meeting took place in the midst of the recent San Diego wildfires - the worst in state history - SDSC staff made sure that the meeting proceeded as scheduled. Workshop organizers Chaitan Baru of SDSC and Cinzia Cervato of Iowa State University noted that SDSC events planner Nancy Jensen went "above and beyond" in helping accommodate the group of some 20 out of town workshop participants, ensuring that the event was able to relocate on short notice from the UCSD campus, which was closed due to the fires, to the nearby La Jolla Beach and Tennis club.

The NSF CHRONOS project is a broad effort to integrate a diverse array of stratigraphic and related databases into a uniform data environment in order to produce a more precise time scale for the history of the Earth. Not only is an improved time scale important in itself, CHRONOS will also provide a powerful environment for interdisciplinary Earth history research that will give scientists unprecedented insights into questions ranging from the evolution and diversity of life, climate change, and geochemical cycles, to rapid geologic events, magnetic field fluctuations, and other major Earth system processes.

Growing out of SDSC's participation in the NSF GEON or Geosciences Network project, Chaitan Baru, co-director of SDSC's Data and Knowledge Systems program, is serving as a co-principal investigator in CHRONOS, and DAKS researcher Doug Greer will provide database integration services and serve as liaison between GEON and CHRONOS.

"Based on growing experience in GEON, SDSC is providing informatics best practices for CHRONOS," said Baru. "Many individual scientific disciplines have built high quality databases, and now we're helping them coordinate and make sure that these systems will be compatible." Baru expects this architecture to gain momentum in the future, forming a highly capable IT core into which individual discipline grids can connect. "The larger vision is to facilitate the integration of multidisciplinary Earth science data sets and create a Geoinformatics portal that provides access to the integrated information."

Beyond bringing together a wide range of Earth data, CHRONOS will provide a tool-rich portal to enable scientists, as well as educators, policymakers, and the public, to access and investigate Earth data in new ways. The CHRONOS Tools Workshop developed a target list of tools and applications for the project, including visualization modules, graphic correlation tools, probability and statistics tools, and time series analysis tools. The workshop also addressed issues including how best to facilitate communication between IT specialists and geologists, based on what geologists do now and what they would like to be able to do with CHRONOS; encouraging participation in CHRONOS; and educating CHRONOS users in how to use the toolbox in both research and educational applications. To find out more about CHRONOS, visit and click on "Documents." -Paul Tooby

Related Links


SDSC overview article on CHRONOS, July 2003 -

Geosciences Network (GEON) -

SDSC's Data and Knowledge Systems (DAKS) program -