Geographic Information System tools help catalog, visualize, analyze volcano data

Around 2000 and 2018, hydrothermal water temperatures had increased in Norris’ Porcelain Basin (pictured here). Geographic Information Systems technology allowed analysis of huge datasets to see the change.

Jacob W. Frank, NPS

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Jefferson Hungerford, park geologist, and Kiernan Folz-Donahue, physical science technician, both with Yellowstone National Park.

Geologists, geophysicists and geochemists generate mountains of data when studying geologic processes. A single geologic event, like a landslide or a volcanic eruption, can yield terabytes of information. It’s an amazing volume that can be multiplied by the number of scientists that are working on a given project.

Almost all these data are spatially constrained. That means they are associated with specific locations on the Earth’s surface, and thus can be represented as particular points on a map. Geology is the study of the Earth, and maps provide a simple form of data visualization. What did explorers do when they reached what were to them unknown lands? They made maps. What did the

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