EarthCube Data Infrastructure: Collaborative Proposal: A unified experimental-natural digital data system for analysis of rock microstructure

Project: Research project

Project Details


When viewed at the micro-scale, rocks reveal structures that help to interpret the processes and forces responsible for their formation. These microstructures help to explain phenomena that occur at the scale of mountains and tectonic plates. Interpretation of microstructures formed in nature during deformation is aided by comparison with those formed during experiments, under known conditions of pressure, temperature, stress, strain and strain rate, and experimental rock deformation benefits from the ground truth offered through comparison with rocks deformed in nature. However, the ability to search for relevant naturally or experimentally deformed microstructures is hindered by the lack of any database that contains these data. The researchers collaborating on this project will develop a single digital data system for rock microstructures to facilitate the critical interaction between and among the communities that study naturally and experimentally deformed rocks. To aid in the comparison of microstructures formed in nature and experiment, we will link to commonly used analytical tools and develop a pilot project for automatic comparison of microstructures using machine learning.

Rock microstructures relate processes at the microscopic scale to phenomena at the outcrop, orogen, and plate scales and reveal the relationships among stress, strain, and strain rate. Quantitative rheological information is obtained through linked studies of naturally formed microstructures with those created during rock deformation experiments under known conditions. The project will develop a single digital data system for both naturally and experimentally deformed rock microstructure data to facilitate comparison of microstructures from different environments. A linked data system will facilitate interaction between practitioners of experimental deformation, those studying natural deformation and the cyberscience community. The data system will leverage the StraboSpot data system currently under development in Structural Geology and Tectonics. To develop this system requires: 1) Modification of the StraboSpot data system to accept microstructural data from both naturally and experimentally deformed rocks; and 2) Linking the microstructural data to its geologic context ? either in nature, or its experimental data/parameters. The researchers will engage the rock deformation community with the goal of establishing data standards and protocols for data collection, and integrate our work with ongoing efforts to establish protocols and techniques for automated metadata collection and digital data storage. To analyze the microstructures studied and/or generated by these communities, we will ensure StraboSpot data output is compatible with commonly used microstructural tools. They will develop a pilot project for comparing and analyzing microstructures from different environments using machine-learning.

Effective start/end date9/1/178/31/20


  • National Science Foundation: $63,665.00


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