EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The StraboSpot data system for geological research

Julie Newman1, J. Douglas Walker2, Basil Tikoff3, and Randolph Williams3
Julie Newman et al.
  • 1Department of Geology and Geophysics, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX USA (
  • 2Department of Geology, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS USA (
  • 3Department of Geoscience, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI USA (

The StraboSpot digital data system is designed to allow researchers to digitally collect, store, and share both field and laboratory data.  Originally designed for structural geology field data, StraboSpot has been extended to field-based petrology and sedimentology.  Current efforts will integrate micrographs and data related to microscale and experimental rock deformation. The StraboSpot data system uses a graph database, rather than a relational database approach.  This approach increases its flexibility and allows the system to track geologically complex relationships. StraboSpot currently operates on two different platform types: (1) a field-based application that functions with or without internet access; and (2) a web interface (Internet-connected settings only).

 The data system uses two main concepts - spots and tags - to organize data. A spot consists of a specific area at any spatial scale of observation.  Spots are related in a purely spatial manner, and consequently, one spot can enclose multiple other spots that themselves contain spots.  Spatial data can thus be tracked from regional to microscopic scale.  Tags provide conceptual grouping of spots, allowing linkages between spots that are independent of their spatial position.  A simple example of a tag is a geologic unit or formation. Multiple tags can be assigned to any spot, and tags can be assigned throughout a field study. The advantage of tags is their flexibility, in that they can be completely defined by individual scientists. Critically, tags are independent of the spatial scale of the observation. Tags may also be used to accommodate complex and complete descriptions. 

The strength of the StraboSpot platform is its flexibility, and that it can be linked to other existing and future databases in order to integrate with digital efforts across the geological sciences.  The StraboSpot data system – in coordination with other digital data efforts – will allow researchers to conduct types of science that were previously not possible and allows geologists to join big data initiatives.

How to cite: Newman, J., Walker, J. D., Tikoff, B., and Williams, R.: The StraboSpot data system for geological research, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12692,, 2020


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