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DFG-Rundgespräch „Geochemical Data Bases and Sample Archiving“


The past decades are marked by an accelerating accumulation of published geochemical data. While each new dataset adds to an ever more detailed picture of how Earth formed, comprehensive approaches including all data, or simply keeping an overview of all data becomes increasingly difficult. Digital tools and new rules of how to publish data are required. New digital tools should not only be passive in the way that data are made accessible. Such tools need to allow for access, display and modelling of all available data. Several national and international initiatives exist to provide structured geo-related data. National initiatives are limited to either local solutions or particular datasets, e.g. marine and geophysical data. The urgent need for structured geochemical data is widely acknowledged. This has already been realised in the US, where NSF-funded geo-related databases and -archives have been developed (e.g. EarthChem).

In addition, as more advanced analytical tools become available, older and previously well characterized samples become ever more valuable. Therefore, it is an additional urgent requirement to assure future access to well- archived sample sets.

With this DFG Rundgespräch we initiate a national initiative in Germany to  secure and further develop comprehensive geochemical data bases and archiving of important sample collections for future use, but a strategy for digital geochemical data in general.


As a first step, 27 researchers were invited to represent the field of geochemistry and national research institutions to this Rundgespräch, which took place from Feb. 22 to 24 at the Geoscience Center Göttingen (GZG, Abtl. Geochemie).


The major goals of this DFG Rundgespräch were:

Define the present status and future needs of Geochemical Databases nationally and internationally. In particular,

-      Inform and provide an overview of existing national geo-initiatives e.g. GEO.X, Pangea, GEOROC, re3data.org and what these offer and/or intend.

-      Inform and provide an overview of existing international geo-initiatives e.g. EarthCube, EarthChem, IEDA, Data Journals, General Infrastructures and what these offer and/or intend.

-      Inform and provide an overview of the need for a rock sample repository.

-      Define the future direction of Geochemical Databases in Germany and their link to EarthChem.


-     How could a national contribution to digital database be developed and maintained?

      (->integrate existing facilities and initiatives). The future of GEOROC: Currently, GEOROC i9n combination with PeDB of EarthChem is probably one the most used and largest geochemical databases for igneous rocks world wide. At present, it is exclusively funded by the Max Planck Society, but this support will end within the foreseeable future.

Develop guidelines for publishing geochemical data from DFG- and other funded projects.

-      What can the community provide to realise Geochemical Databases?

-     What can the DFG provide to secure the development of Geochemical Databases?


Sample archiving                                                                                                          

-     Define responsibility for archiving and acessability of important samples for geochemical studies, scientifically, logistically and financially

-     How could a national/European rock sample repository look like?

-     Discuss the need and obligation to link samples obtained in DFG-funded geochemical projects to the „International Geo Sample Number Implementation Organization, IGSN (www.igsn.org).


Research in Big Data Geochemistry

Geochemical research has already been impacted by Big Data research and will further change the way geochemists do geochemistry. Thus one major goal is to review existing examples of Big Data geochemistry from the literature and develop future directions of research in Germany 

For further details see:

DFG-Rundgespräch Report (in German) 

(1) Introduction and Motivation (Gerhard Wörner)

(2) EarthChem, PetDB, NSF-initiatives (Kerstin Lehnert, will be provided later)

(3) GEOROC (Bärbel Sarbas)

(4)  Big Data in Geochemistry (Dominik Hezel)

(5)  GFZ Data management  (Kirsten Elger)

(6) Pangea (Stefanie Schumacher

(7) EU-connections (Nick Arndt)

(8) Working Group Sample Archives (Gerhard Wörner)

(9) Working Group Digital Geochemical Database Infrastructure (Dominik Hezel)



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