The Virtual Earth

A Tour of the World Wide Web For Earth Scientists

This page is an introduction to the World Wide Web for Earth Scientists. It is not intended to be a resource listing, but to illustrate the potential of the Web as an information retrieval system. A second part of this document is The Soft Earth, which is more of a resource listing of software available on the Net.

You can peel The Virtual Earth off your browser and modify it to your own requirements. This is to enable people to modify and maintain their own versions of the Virtual Earth. This will result in many variants of the Virtual Earth, but you can click here to obtain the latest version of the original page.

 The Virtual Earth is mirrored at Oxford University in the U.K. It is also mirrored (on a daily basis) at Mikael Niklasson's page in Sweden, by Javier Sabadell at University of Zaragoza in Spain, and by Sam Toon at Liverpool University

 Some of the features used in this document are the mailto: and news: URL's. The onus is on the user to ensure their browser is capable of a mailto: procedure and is configured for the news: procedure.


General Information

The World Wide Web is an initiative by the CERN organisation for a global information retrieval system. If you know very little about the Internet, then The Extended Guide to the Internet is a good start, although there is a lot to read. The original is at EFF's site. John December's Internet Web Text is another document on how to use the Net.

If you know nothing about the Web, then the on-line article by the USGS Training Material on the WWW and Mosaic, plus an Internet Resources Page. Telstra Corporation in Australia provides some on-line documents on Internet Guides and Papers on the Internet and the Web.

For more specific information on the Web you should read the FAQ for WWW. As Web connections are based on Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), and URLs are becoming a standard way of refering to connections on the Internet, then browsing Tim Berners-Lee's rfc on Uniform Resource Locators may be a good idea.

What's On The Web

Company Sites

Various White and Yellow Pages are appearing on the net which can give telephone numbers and addresses of people and companies. One worth looking at, especially if you live in the States, is Big Book. This claims to have over 11 million US businesses in its data base, and has configurable search parameters. It can also present you with a location street map and (if one exists) a home page of the company.

 Some of the 'biggies' in the computing industry are running Web servers. These include Digital Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Sun Microsystems, Cray Research, IBM, Intel, Novell Corpration, Microsoft and Apple Computers.

Commercial organisations are establishing web servers for both general information to the intenet community and to display their products. Some of the better sites include Info-Mine the Canadian based company Robertson Info-Data Inc. which provides mining information including company and property information, mining publications, a Kimberlite data-base, broker's research reports and more. MineNet by Tensor Technology is aimed at the mining industry but is more on the technical side. It also includes white pages of people interested in mining information on the net. The Northern Miner is a weekly magazine giving exploration results, onsite reports, company profiles and the like in the North American Mining Industry. It also has a mining industry data base with over 2800 entries.

The World Bank - Industry & Mining has links to useful sources of on-line mining and industry information.

The Investor Channel provides references to investments in the mining industry.

ImageNet by Core Software Technology is a geospatial data site which has an on-line archive and preview system for geospatial data. DeLorme Maps is more than a cartographic company producing top quality maps. Kovach Computing Services is a small company specialising in Dos/Windows statistical software, but it has a good list of sites for shareware and public domain software for the Earth Sciences.

 John Harrop's The Geo Exchange is an annotated list of Applied and Commercial Geosciences sites.

 The GIS World magazine also has a Web server. Several GIS Software companies have web sites, or other sites carry information regarding their software. Included are MapInfo on the internet, ESRI GIS site. Michael Scott of the University of South Carolina has created a page of Commercial Geography Companies.

The Fossil Company markets mineral and fossil specimens and their catalogue has been placed on their web page. Also located there is an excellent list of geology links, a Picture Gallery of Fossils and finally Information on UK Geology.

Geoscience Ltd is a UK company specialising in deep geotechnical services for the petroleum industry.

A Commercial environmental site worth looking at is INTERA Inc. which has links to related sites, a Software Index and links to publica domain software. Another site is Environmental Hydrosystems, a water resources and environmental consulting firm which offers a lot on the Net, including a Hot List of environmental, water resources and Earth Science links, plus the EnviroMod Data Warehouse Broker, to search all known pertinent sites to groundwater and environmental modelling.

  • Web Based Magazines
    The On-Line Resources for Earth Scientists (ORES) by Bill Thoen and Ted Smith has many links to on-line journals and periodicals for various fields. Included are (Note that some of these pages may not yet be posted): Geography and GIS, General Geology, Volcanology, Geophysics and Oceanography.

     Jorg Schulz-Rojahn has a FAQ on Earth Science Journals. Jorg's interest is in softrock and petroleum geology and this list reflects that interest.

     Links to other pages with on-line journal information include Daniele Pinti's Journal On-Line which has links to 329 on-line journals for Earth Sciences with Table of Contents and/or information instructions for authors. Another is Wuchang Wei's Journal Page which has instructions about subscribing monthly Table of Contents of about 264 geoscience journals (the service is automatic and free)

     Samizdat Press aims for the free distribution of Geophysical publications, books and software.

     The Geography Dept. at the University of South Carolina is the www home of the Disaster Research Newsletter from the Natural Hazards Research and Applications Center in Boulder, CO. The Natural Hazard Research Centre at Macquarie University publish the Natural Hazards Quarterly. Back issues are also on-line.

    The American Geological Institute has information on Silverplatter's GeoRef CD Rom data base. They also have the contents and information on the Geotimes Magazine. The Hyperspectrum Newsletter covers imaging spectroscopy for remote sensing, environmental monitoring, photobiology and military target detection applications.

     UserNet is the technical newsletter from Landmark Graphic Corporation, a supplier of exploration and production info-systems for the Petroleum Industry. Its worth a look. Science Magazine now produces an Internet edition, as does the Journal of Biological Chemistry The Historical Gazette is edited by Bridget Smith. It is a local on-line historical magazine for Oregon region, but is included here as there are great descriptions of the old gold mining camps, gold mines (such as the Great Comstock Lode) and reports from early USGS geologists like Waldemar Lindgren.

    Usenet News and FAQs

    Most people first gain Web information for particular subjects from the various Usenet news postings. The early Usent news were archived on ftp and gopher servers, for example the following usenet items are done with gopher connections. sci.geo.geology solid earth sciences, sci.geo.oceanography, for oceanography, and sci.geo.petroleum.

     However, most of the modern browsers can now access a Usenet News server directly, and subscribe and post to News groups. This uses the "news:" URL, but your browser needs to be configured for this. Some of the news groups of interest to geoscientists include: sci.geo.geology, sci.geo.petroleum, sci.geo.earthquakes, comp.infosystems.gis, and sci.geo.hydrology.

    The Phoaks site collects url's that are posted to various news groups. These can either be accessed at the Phoaks site.

    One of the better sites for news groups is DejaNews. This site archives what appears to be the postings to every news group available. Quick and power searches are possible, as are identifying which newsgroup will likely talk about a defined topic. This site must be added to your bookmarks.

    Frequently Asked Questions for a particular news group are a good source of information. FAQs that have been approved by the *.answers moderators get archived at the RTFM server at MIT. The main ones for geosciences include Geoscience Resources Part 1 and Geoscience Resources Part 2 by Ingram, Petroleum Resources by Guthery, Science Data Formats by Stern, and the Stern's Meteorology FAQ in several parts: FAQ-Intro, Weather-Data, Research-Data, CD Roms, Net-resources, Print-Resources and State-Climatologists, and (another in a number of parts) Satellite Imagery FAQ (part 1), Satellite Imagery FAQ (part 2), Satellite Imagery FAQ (part 3), Satellite Imagery FAQ (part 4), and Satellite Imagery FAQ (part 5) by Nick Kew.

     Some sites access these FAQ archives and automatically convert them to hypertext documents and add a WAIS search engines. These are WAIS/FAQ gateways and include the sites at Ohio State, plus Universiteit Utrecht, and also Oxford University Libraries. The Geoscience FAQs from Ohio State, and Geosciences FAQs from Utrecht.

    There is a Usenet news group for the World Wide Web, or Announcements of new web sites, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions on the Web.

    Resource Guides

    Various resource guides are becomming 'html-ised'. Bill Thoen's On-Line Resources for Earth Scientists is available via Cornell University. Bill, with Ted Smith, are compiling a new on-line version of ORES which is available at the gisnet server. The GIS and Oceanography sections are complete, and other sections will be added as they are completed. An alternate site for a top level link is available.

    The paper by McDermott on GIS Sites gives a list of GIS Resources. Ilana Stern's Meteorological Resources FAQ is also in hypertext, as is the sci.geo.petroleum FAQ, and the GIS FAQ by Lisa Nyman. Scott Yanoff's Internet Services List is the web format of the old Special Internet Connections.

    Nick Kew and others produce the Satellite Imagery FAQ. Nick has developed the Web Thing which brings a new level of interactivity to the FAQ. It intergrates the FAQ with a threaded bulletin board and a searchable data-base. The SATFAQ may also be found at the WebThing as the Remote Sensing InterFAQ.

    Electronic Publications and PrePrints

    Published (and non-published) papers are becoming either accessable or available via the Web. Electronic Publishing raises many issues. The University of Michigan Press have raised some of these issues in the Journal of Electronic Publishing. Some of the issues raised include copyright, digital libraries, economic, imaging issues, policy and technical issues. MIT also have a page discussing electronic publishing issues.

    MIT have a searchable Index of Supplements to Published Papers in meteorology and oceanography. The index can be accessed by journal, author, newest entry or searched. A complementary site at GFDL is the Electronic Preprint Archive which has information about Atmospheric and Ocean Sciences e-prints.

     Vincent Granville administers the Spatial Statistics Preprint Service where you can submit a paper, or read a description of, and download, a paper on spatial statistics.

     The National Academy Press has put more than 1000 Books On-Line. NAP is the publisher for the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

    Starting Points for Web Exploration

    Subject orientated starting points for Web exploration fall into two general catagories, register of Web sites and Robots, which actively seek out web servers and place their information in a searchable database.

    Earth Sciences Resources