Google Earth, GIS, and the Great Divide: a new and simple method for sharing paleontological data.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert Anemone, Professor and Department Head (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:

Abstract: Introduction The ease, efficiency, and speed of data communication and analyses are paramount to, and characteristic of, any mature science. GIS is an extraordinarily powerful tool for many aspects of (geo)spatial analyses (Longley et al., 2001), but while used routinely to solve complex spatial analyses problems in many disciplines, its adoption within paleontology has been lagging (Conroy, 2006). Part of the problem is that (a) GIS software is expensive (usually prohibitively so to the individual paleontological researcher) and (b) very few paleontologists are trained in its use. Here we show how paleontological data can be easily displayed and communicated in ways never before possible by combining Google Earth and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Using paleontological field data, we demonstrate several examples that go far beyond the novelty of simply “find my house” that many Google Earth users are currently familiar with. Specifically, we show how GIS map layers of paleontological interest, including their associated attribute tables (e.g., field catalog data), can be freely and easily transmitted to anyone with Internet access and familiarity with Google Earth. Data organized in GIS layers can be exported to the keyhole mark-up language native to Google Earth (KML/KMZ), transmitted to colleagues (who may have no knowledge of or access to GIS) as an email attachment, and then simply “dragged and dropped” by the recipient onto their own desktop Google Earth display, where the map layers appear “draped” over the Google Earth landscape. The recipient has access to all the graphics and attributes of each map layer that has been exported from GIS as well as to all Google Earth tools [e.g., ability to adjust map layer transparencies, labeling, longitude/latitude (or UTM determinations), spatial measurements, and “tilting” of landscapes for enhanced 3D views]. These tools are often sufficient to allow the non-GIS user to obtain specific information of interest from the data.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Great Divide Basin, Paleontology, Paleoanthropology, data sharing

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