We group our proposed research activities into two main categories: (1) Data collection, and (2) developing web-based dynamic tools to exploit the data sets collected. These two topics are inseparable and must be dealt with concurrently.

Building a comprehensive information system is time consuming and requires significant financial and labor resources. Collecting appropriate data sets, digitizing analog data, and organizing these data are challenging tasks and require significant effort. However, the benefits of having a comprehensive information management system for educational efforts greatly outweigh the difficulties. In constructing the geoscience component of the NSDL system the most important issues that we need to consider are the objective, scale, and purpose as well as the level at which they are likely to be used.

Although the intellectual and technical challenges are immense in developing a multi-purpose digital library, we have several significant assets at Cornell. Currently, we hold one of the largest organized digital database systems developed for the solid earth sciences that is publicly accessible via the Internet ( The experience we have gained in designing this information system and developing a large volume database will be a guiding mechanism and guarantee for the success of our proposed research efforts. Data aggregation for a broad discipline, such as the solid earth sciences, is time consuming and tedious work and will take years to accomplish. We are already 5 years ahead in data collection. Under this work we plan to further populate the library with data sets of global coverage. The large volume of data sets at hand will help us to build a quite comprehensive digital library with relatively small NSDL investment. We have already established, tested, and validated procedures for data discovery and capturing processes. Issues such as locating available data sets, handling their formats, data capture mechanisms, data quality determination, data resolution, data usage criteria, and Metadata describing the properties of each and every data set collected must be dealt with rigorously, accurately, and systematically for a successful and stable digital library system. With these goals and our expertise on the subject we propose to accomplish the following tasks in our data collection section.