DATABASE: On the Rocks

Science  29 Nov 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5599, pp. 1685
DOI: 10.1126/science.298.5599.1685c

If you need to know how much water each American county consumes or want to locate Cretaceous sedimentary deposits that might conceal a Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, then check out GEO-DATA Explorer, a jam-packed storehouse from the U.S. Geological Survey. This portal offers more than 100 geological and geographical data sets for the United States and other countries, from maps of coal deposits to real-time stream flow measurements.

The site is organized around a tool that lets you, with a little practice, zoom in on maps and add layers showing different data sets. For example, with the North America map, you can plot the positions of volcanos and meteorite impacts, landfall sites for hurricanes, and the classification of public lands. Some other categories—such as county water consumption and agrochemical use—are hard to see on the maps but can be downloaded as data files. The site's international collections emphasize the distribution of natural resources such as oil, coal, and natural gas.

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