This work, The glossary of geological computing, is intended to provide a resource of definitions, explanations and contact addresses for ordinary geologists.

Each description has the following:

headword (category) description. c.f. related head words.

The categories are:

association - A non-profit organisation.

file format - The layout of data in secondary storage.

hardware - Computers, printers, sensors, instruments and the measures used to judge the performance of those devices.

industry - Government surveys, research organisations and service companies.

mathematics - The logic or alogorithm used in an application.

software - Computer software.

system - A method or organised work to achieve a certain outcome.

ãCopyright 1994, 1996, 2002. Computers in Geology.

All rights reserved. This publication may be reproduced and distributed free to any individual, institution or corporation provided that this preface is also reproduced. It is also published in ISI Research Endnote to allow easy customisation.

Computers in Geology is the registered name of Grant Jacquier - Computer Geologist,
registered office: 14 Third Street, Wilmington SA 5485, Australia.

These definitions are not taken from other references but rather my personal experience and perceptions. Hence, many of these DEFINITIONS will be INACCURATE and more suitable alternatives have been OMITTED.

Please note any opinions expressed here are assuming general conditions that will not be valid for all cases. Therefore readers should seek professional advice on their particular situation before implementing any suggestions.

Grant Jacquier - Computer Geologist
Consulant for the design, integration, and support of geoscientific computer systems.
Anonymous 1999 The Concise Oxford Dictionary; 9th. CD-ROM Focus Multimedia Limited, Focus Multimedia Limited The Studios, Lea Hall Enterprise Park, Armitage Road, Rugely, Staffordshire WS15 United Kingdom.
DONALD, J. R., SOULIS, E. D., KOUWEN, N. and PIETRONIRO, A. 1995 A Land Cover-Based Snow Cover Representation for Distributed Hydrologic-Models. Water Resources Research, 31, 995-1009.
DRURY, S. A. 1993 Image interpretation in geology, Chapman & Hall, London ; New York.
GOULD, S. J. 1999? Questioning the millenium, Jonathon Cape, London.
MATTHEWS, W. H., III and BOYER, R. E. (Eds.) 1976 Dictionary of geological terms, Anchor Press / Doubleday, Garden City, New York.
MIALL, A. D. 1990 Principles of sedimentary basin analysis, Springer-Verlag.
PICKUP, G., CHEWINGS, V. H. and NELSON, D. J. 1993 Estimating changes in vegetation cover over time in arid rangelands using Landsat MSS data. Remote Sensing of Environment, 43, 243-263.

The words

286, compatible c.f: IBM PS/1.
386, compatible c.f: IBM PS/2.
3rd National Conference The third national conference and trade exhibition on the management of geoscience information and data. Held at the Australian Mineral Foundation, Adelaide, 18-20 July 1995.
486, compatible c.f: IBM PS/2.
9 track tape A tape format used for secondary storage. c.f: secondary storage.
access life The maximun average time you can expect to be able to read data from an archive media. Here are some examples:
floppy disks - 5 years
9-track tape - 10 years
QIC tapes - 5-10 years
Exabyte tapes - 10-15 years*
DAT tapes - 15-20 years*
CD-ROM (WORM) - 20-25 years*
CD-ROM (stamped) - 50 years*
* guess, haven't been invented that long
advanced very high resolution radiometer (hardware) The Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer is a five band multi-spectral sensor, mounted in a TIROS platform and launched as a satellite with an orbit of 102 minutes (14 orbits per diem), re-imaging the same area every 12 hours. The intended use is for cloud mapping with pixels of 4 x 4 km. The bands are:
1: 580 to 680 nm
2: 730 to 1100 nm
3: 3550 to 3930 nm
4. 10 000 to 11 500 nm
5. 11 500 to 12 500 nm
AESIS Australian Earth Science Information System, The Australian geoscience bibliographic database run by the Australian Mineral Foundation and distributed on CD-ROM.
Anno Mundi (mathematics) The father of flood studies, Archbishop James Ussher, the Anglican Primate of all Ireland,published in 1650 in his famous book "Annales veteris testamenti a prima mundi origine deducti", the origin of time at the creation of the earth, Anno Mundi. Assuming he worked in the Julian calendar this corresponds to 12 midday October 4 (Julian), 4 004 BC. However, he was an advocate of the millenia and believed important events occurred on the roound 1000 years. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Microsoft Excel date number; Mayan calendar; Islamic calendar; Jewish calendar; Metonic Cycle. Source: Gould (1999?), 89.
Apple Macintosh A personal computer initially using the Motorola 68000 processor, 64Kbyte of RAM and 3.5 inch floppy disk drive. This machine evolved through a series of phases to the Mac Plus with 1Mbyte RAM and a hard disk drive.
application (software) A computer program and a use for it. ie application = software + use.
Applied Terravision Systems Software vendor producing a series of petroleum exploration and production applications based on the Public Petroleum Data Model.
archiving Putting away data that you may need in an emergency. For computers this is downloading your old files to a tape then shipping them to Brambles for secure storage. Alternatively it could mean microfiching all documents before you burn them, or making a CD-ROM of all your old geophysical data before the original tapes fall apart (about 10 years by the way).
arrow keys These are keys of the keyboard usually situated to the right of the letters or as part of the numerical keypad. They are used to move the cursor around the computer screen and position the cursor over the required command or object. The command or object is started by pressing the enter key. Many of the functions of the aarow keys have been simplified with the use of a mouse. c.f: mouse; stylus.
AT An IBM DOS computer c.f: IBM AT (compatible); IBM PC.
AT, compatible c.f: IBM AT.
AT&T UNIX One of the two major variants of the Unix operating system, the other being SYSTEM V. The AT&T standard was refined at the AT&T Berkeley Research Laboratories in the United States. Hence, it is also known as Berkeley UNIX. c.f: UNIX.
ATS See Applied Terravision Systems.
Australian Earth Science Info. System c.f: AESIS.
benchmark A standard test that is applied to a range of computer systems to determine which is superior. There are benchmarks for processor speed, disk access speed, screen clarity and you can make your own. Popularised by the magazines devoted to computing as it makes them appear unbiased. Their major advertisers are still satisfied because by good fortune the benchmarks chosen show their products to advantage.
Berkeley UNIX c.f: AT&T UNIX.
CAD c.f: Computer Aided Drawing.
Carpel Tunnel Syndrome An inflammation of the tendons inside your wrist that takes many years of rest to get back to what it was. It is thought to be due to bad typing technique. It can be prevented by having the keyboard at the right height and doing stretches every 15 minutes. see also RSI.
cassettes c.f: secondary storage.
CGM c.f: Computer Graphics Metafile.
CGM+ A version of the Computer Graphics Metafile graphical programming standard that uses binary rather than ASCII files. For further information see Computer Graphics Metafile.
character c.f: file.
Codd Ted Codd, the inventor of relational theory, has 12 rules that define the degree that a database is relational. It relies heavily on the normalisation theories developed by Boyce and the usual form of data that is ready for a relational database has been normalised to what is known as the Boyce-Codd normal form.
Computer Aided Drawing Alternatively Computer Aided Drafting or Design. A program used by a drafter to draw a plan. It is computer aided because there often features to create little sub-drawings that represent parts of the house or machine. These then can be counted a price attached and the cost of the article determined automatically. Or alternatively one part may be substituted for another in one action.
Computer Graphics Metafile A programming language for graphical images. Generally known as CGM it is the primary graphics file used in SunOS and IRIX operating systems. The images are stored as a series of vectors (objects) within an ASCII file though a binary file equivalent CGM+ is available.
computer system The programs, the computers, the people fixing the computers, the people using the computers, their supervisors, and the procedures that connect all these together.
computing power This refers to the speed at which programs are run. It is dependent on at least three things, the processor clock speed eg 100Mhz, the data bus size ie AT 16bit, IBM PS/2 32bit, Sun SPARCserver has 64bit, and often overlooked but especially vital to database applications is the disk access time eg: 9 nanoseconds. To compensate for slow disk read/writes, programs use paging, in which case memory becomes a factor.
confidence map a plan of the project area showing regions of different accuracy eg: air photinterpretation only, air photo interp plus some traverses, fully mapped. c.f: metadata.
consistency (mathematics) The degree of conformity of data collection and processing attitudes or practices over the whole data set collection period. c.f: relevance; continuity; timeliness. consistency.
Consolve Incorporated c.f: SiteManager.
continuity (mathematics) The actual area of coverage of a spatial data set compared to the area that could possibly be covered. c.f: relevance; consistency; timeliness. continuity.
controlled conditions When you archive stuff to tape or microfilm, it will survive longer if it is in an air conditioned, dust proof room at the optimum temperature and humidity. This is what you pay for when you send it to Brambles or other secure data services (well if you don't count the fire proof rooms).
coverage diagrams where a particular survey has been run a little sketch is provided to show the area covered with respect to the whole project area. See also metadata
Crimson A multi user mini computer, built by Silicon Graphics, using the IRIX operating system. Intended as a server (mother computer) for the Silicon Graphics range of workstation type computers.
CSIRO (industry) An Australian government, semi commercial, applied scientific research, authority. CSIRO is an anagram of Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. c.f: SARAT.
data c.f: data base.
Data Administrator The person responsible for defining and maintaining the standards and general philosophies required for an efficient and practical data base.
data base (system) A formal collection of indexed data though not necessarily on a computer. This can be digital data, documents, images, drawings, records or computer files. If the data is stored and indexed by a computer the data base can be more specifically termed a database.
data base management The rules and techniques used to maintain a an efficient and practical data base. It can be broken into two major tasks - Data Administration and Data Base Administration. c.f: also Data Base, Data Administrator,
Data Base Administrator.

data dictionary c.f: metadata.
Data Manager c.f: Data Administrator.
data security service Security companies like Brambles and Mayne-Nickles offer a service where a guard will drive to your office, collect a copy of your data either on tape or disk, and then take it to a locked, fireproof warehouse where it is properly catalogued and stored. Then if there is a fire at your office which destroys your records, you ring them and they quickly retrieve the copy you gave them so you can replace the lost data.
database A computerised data base. c.f: data base.
Database Administrator The person responsible for running a database, including program maintenance, user access and data security.
Database Integration To combine one or more databases into a single entity. However, the unified database may (and should) be made up of physically discrete databases. The integration is the elimination of duplicate data, application of a consistent model or philosophy (see Data Administrator) and linked access to all databases simultaneously (see Database Administrator).
Database Manager c.f: Database Administrator.
Dbase III The database software produced by Ashton Tate that became the default standard for PC based databases and business software. It was so popular in the late 1980's that it became the mostly wide used application in the world. See also Xbase.
DEC The company that makes VAX, VAXstation and DECstation computers. They also develop the VMS and ULTRIX operating systems.
DECstation A computer by DEC (Digital) that uses a UNIX variant ULTRIX as its operating system.
Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria (industry) Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Victoria includes the divisions of Agriculture; Minerals & Petroleum; and Land Victoria.
desktop PC A computer for use by a single person on their own desk. PC or Personal Computer used to mean this but now with portable PCs, laptop PCs, palmtop PCs, workstation PCs and PC servers the original meaning needs to be qualified. See also mobile computing.
differential flow meter An instument to measure the velocity of a fluid flow in a pipe. It is particular useful in mine monitoring because it is abrasion resistant and can be read electronically.
digitise The process by which lines on a plan, map are chart are converted to coordinates so that a computer may process the lines. Originally done on a digitising board with a puck. Now the article is scanned, the resulting image file is loaded into the program as a backdrop and then the relevent features traced on the computer screen using a mouse.
DLIS c.f: LIS.
DOS The operating system used by IBM PCs and compatible computers. There have been 6 versions as of 1995. Some classic vintages were Version 3, which became the standard system for text based programs and led to the PC boom. DOS 5 was the base for Windows 3.1 which led to the boom in Windows style computing. Finally there was 6.2 which was the last before Windows95 replaced DOS altogether (but it is still under the hood).
download The process by which data is summarised and transported from one computer to another by electronic means rather than retyping the information.
downtime The amount of time that is lost when a piece of equipment is broken.
EDGE Environmental Data Grab and Export. A database application developed by the environmental consultant group Woodward-Clyde to store analyses and hydrological records. This was the prototype for the commercial program SiteManager.
entity c.f: schema.
ERDAS Inc (company) The manufacturers of the image processing software Imagine. Part owned by Leica Geosystems. c.f: Leica Geosystems.
Ethernet (hardware) The electrical, electronic and signal standard for cables connecting two or more computers so that they appear to be one big computer. When added to the basic software standard TCP/IP it forms the standard for the interconnection of computers using the UNIX operating system. c.f: network

ETM+ (hardware) A hyperspectral sensor used on the, National Aeronautical Space Agency of the United States of America, Landsat 7 satellite. c.f: Landsat
Thermal Mapper.

EXABYTE (secondary storage) c.f: secondary storage.
EXPLORERII A database application developed by the company Terra Search, that is exceptionally good for integrating geochemical data. See also Terra Search.
facies (mathematics) General appearance or nature of one part of the rock body as contrasted with other parts. c.f: radio-facies. Source: Matthews and Boyer (1976), 155.
fax/copier/printer A facsimile machine, a printer and a photocopier share some of the same components. So manufacturers have been producing machines which have all three built in. The more expensive is for home-office use and uses laser printing technology. The second type uses thermal printing and is for portable use.
file general: The smallest amount of data that can be read or written to secondary storage.
Data Base Management: Physically a database is considered to be composed of FILES which comprise RECORDS which have FIELDS which have CHARACTERS.
floppy disks c.f: secondary storage.
French 1792 calendar (mathematics) The calendar used by revolutionary scientists. Declared in 1792. The rules are:
- 12 months of 30 days each
- five special days at end of the year
- extra special day every four years c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar. Source: Gould (1999?), 140.
geographic information system (software) A Geographic Information System is a program which does geographical operations on data such as 'Show me all mines which are in this permit?', 'Show me all oil storage sites within 50 kilometres of this well head?', 'Show me all factories that are upslope of this river system?'
It is based on strings of points which can be linked to give lines and polygons. Each point is given a location in terms of two coordinates and a projection. These points have additional information attached such as 'upstream point' or 'inside fill' which allow vector mathematics to be applied.
Geolog Log processing software developed by MINCOM Pty Ltd. It was sold in the late 1990s to an Israeli company, Paradigm Geophysical. see MINCOM
GIS in Geoscience The GIS in the geosciences conference run by the Australian Geological Survey Organisation and held in Canberra in March of 1995.
G.I.S. or GIS c.f: Geographic Information System.
Global Positioning System (GPS). A computer that uses military navigation satellites to calculate the position, in three orthogonal geodic coordinates, of the attached receiver.
GPS c.f: Global Positioning System.
Gregorian calendar (mathematics) The calendar generally used for scientific purposes. A new calendar to replace the Julian calendar was proposed by Christopher Clavius which Pope Gregory XIII proclaimed in February 24 (Julian), 1582 AD .
Rules are:
1. 365 days in the year
2. Months in order are January (31 days), February (28 days but 29 in leap years), March (31), April (30), May (31), June (30), July(31), August(31), September (30), October(31), November(30), December(31).
3. A leap year every fourth year except those which fall on the centuries which are not divisible by 400.
4. The origin is the night of December 31, 1 BC/ morning of January 1, 1 Anno Domini (AD).
Features of the calendar are:
- departs from the solar year by 25.96 seconds per year
- The Catholic world, changed from the Julian calendar on the evening of October 4 (Julian) 1582, resulting in 10 days, October 5 to 14 , not being used, the next day being October 15 (Gregorian).
- Adopted by the British Empire, in the evening of September 2 (Julian) / morning of September 14 (Gregorian) 1752, from the Julian calendar which left 11 dates, September 3 to 13, not used. There is a possible exception the island of Foula? which retains the Julian calendar.
- Abandoned temporarily by the French Republic from 1792.
- Adopted by the Russian Republic in 1918 from the Julian calendar. c.f: Julian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; French 1792 calendar; Anno Mundi; Jewish calendar; Islamic calendar; masonic calendar; Metonic Cycle. Source: Gould (1999?), 140, 144-150.
grouped response unit (system) The grouped reponse unit (GRU) is several zones of a water catchment which are modelled as having the same hydrological behaviour. c.f: RMU. Source: Donald et al. (1995/ ISI:A1995QQ32000019),
hard disk c.f:: secondary storage.
háute resolution visible The multi-spectral sensor Háute Resolution Visible (HRV) is found on the SPOT series of satellites numbers 1 to 4. The band combinations are:
X1: 500 to 590 nm
X2: 610 to 680 nm
X3: 790 to 890 nm
P: 510 to 730 nm c.f: SPOT.
heat stress Heat stress is the technical name for the failure of an electronic component due to over heating or repeated over heating. Domestic electronic components are designed to operate between temperatures of 15 to 25 Celsius. They can tolerate for short periods (an hour) of time temperatures outside that range in the range of 0 to 35 Celsius. In Australia this is a significant problem for field equipment.
A type of database that uses ordinary pages of text. Rather than being one page after another, a highlighted keyword in the first page is clicked on to go to the next. This allows a very flexible structure that is very useful in conveying information. The Help in Microsoft Windows programs and World Wide Web pages on Internet are examples of hypertext.
HTML c.f: hypertext mark-up language.
hypertext mark-up language (file format) A annotated text file used for displaying text and images, such as on the world wide web. Files in this format are usually suffixed with HTM or HTML. c.f: world wide web.
IBM AT The term IBM AT ( or compatible) refers to a computer with one 5.25 inch floppy disk drive, 640 kbytes of RAM, an Intel 8086 processor, a Monochrome Display (MDA) or Colour Graphics (CGA) Adapter.
IBM PC The term IBM PC ( or compatible) refers to a computer with one or two 5.25 inch floppy disk drives, 32 to 512 kbytes of RAM, an Intel 8088 processor, a Monochrome or Hercules Display Adapter driving the screen. c.f: also PC.
IBM PS/1 The term IBM PS/1 ( or compatible) refers to a computer with one 5.25 inch floppy disk drive, 1 Mbyte of RAM, an Intel 80286 processor, a Colour Graphics (CGA) or Extended Graphics (EGA) Adapter to drive the screen. This machine had a choice of operating systems either PC-DOS (MS-DOS) or OS/2.
IBM PS/2 The term IBM PS/2 ( or compatible) refers to a computer with one 3.5 inch floppy disk drive, 2 - 16 Mbytes of RAM, an Intel 80386 or Intel 80486 processor, an Extended (EGA) or Very Extended (VGA) Graphics Adapter driving the screen. This machine had a choice of operating systems either PC-DOS (MS-DOS) or OS/2. Unix variations such as Xenix and SCO Unix could also be run on this machine.
IBM XT The term IBM XT ( or compatible) refers to a computer with one 5.25 inch floppy disk drive, a 10 Mbyte hard disk, 512 kbytes of RAM, an Intel 8088 processor, a Monochrome Display (MDA) or Hercules Adapter driving the screen.
IEEE (association) Pronounced Eye Triple Eee, this was formerly the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a professional body of scientists and engineers based in the United States. IEEE promotes standardisation and has a specialist group, Geoscience and Remote Sensing Society, concerned with geophysical equipment, satellite sensors and associated processing. c.f: JPEG. 217.
information super highway (logical concept) The Bill Clinton, the former president of the United States of America publicised this phrase when trying to comercialise the Internet which until that time had been mainly research and defence oriented. It implies a great resource of information on computer and freely available to ordinary people
Information Technology (management practice) A broader term than MIS it refers to all forms of new technology for information storage including microfiche, scanning, bar coding etc. Unfortunately, it has been used to rebadge unsuccessful MIS departments in the belief that a new name will resolve the department's narrow mindedness. This is not a new concept many unsuccesful MIS departments were originally called Data Processing.
inkjet printer A printer which uses fine nozzles to squirt ink from disposable cartridges on to paper. It produces a very nice finish and colour plots take the same time as black and white because the colour nozzles squirt at the same time as the black one. Lighter and cheaper than laser printers but not as robust as dot matrix printers. Ideal for geological drafting.
Internet Explorer c.f: Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Iris Indigo An entry level version of the Personal Iris. c.f: also Personal Iris, IRIX.
IRIX The operating system for the Silicon Graphics Personal Iris, Crimson and Indigo machines. See also AT&T UNIX, UNIX.
Islamic calendar (mathematics) The Islamic calendar, based on lunar orbits rather than the solar orbit is used by Muslim scholars.
The rules are:
- Months include Ramadan
- origin is associated with the life of Mohammed and the Christian equivalent falls within the 7th century of the Gregorian calendar. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Microsoft Excel date number; Mayan calendar. Source: Gould (1999?), 154.
IT c.f: Information Technology.
Jewish calendar (mathematics) The Jewish calendar, based on lunar orbits rather than the solar orbit is used by Talamud scholars.
The rules are:
- The year is of 354 days, 384 in a leap year, 385 in a special leap year.
- There are 12 months to a year except in a leap year when an extra leap month (30 days) is added.
- leap months are added based on the Metonic Cycle, after the fifth century B.C Athenian astronomer, Meton, which adds a the leap month in seven out of nineteen years. For the Jewish calendar this third, sixth, eighth, eleventh, fourteenth, seventeenth and nineteenth years. Five of those leap months have 31 days to count for the five day shortfall in the original Metonic Cycle. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Microsoft Excel date number; Mayan calendar; Islamic calendar. Source: Gould (1999?), 153-154.
JPEG (file format) A computer file formatting standard, designed by the Junior Pictorial Engineering Group of the IEEE, for raster images that allows multiple layers and is read by most Internet browsers. This makes it especially useful for geological maps and satellite images. c.f: Netscape Navigator; Mosaic; Microsoft Internet Explorer; IEEE; raster.
Julian calendar (mathematics) The calendar used by Eastern Orthodox monks, Renaissance, and medieval scientists. Based on the original calendar declared by Julius Ceasar in 45 BC (Gregorian) but with a redefined origin, based on a chronology of Pope St John, by the sixth century monk, Dionysius Exiguus at the night of December 31, 1 BC/ morning of January 1, 1 Anno Domini (AD).
The rule is:
January 1, 754 ab urbe condita (AUC) = January 1, Anno Domini (AD) c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar. Source: Gould (1999?), 106.
Julian (original) calendar (mathematics) The calendar used by Roman scientists. Julius Ceasar declared the new calendar in 45 BC (Gregorian). Rules are:
1. 365 days in the year
2. A leap year every fourth year.
3. The origin year is 1 ab urbe condita (AUC), the foundation of Rome.
Features of the calendar are:
- over-estimates the solar year by 11 minutes that is seven days every 1000 years
- 1 BC = 753 AUC, 1 AD = 754 AUC c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian calendar. Source: Gould (1999?), 106, 141-144.
keyboard The keyboard is the usual means of entering data into a computer. There are several styles, the standard one on a PC is a QWERTY keyboard. Other styles include Dvorak, which has been optimised for typing speed; custom or theme keyboards. for specialist computers in drafting, or at the supermarket checkout; and keypads, used by clerks for high speed entry of numbers. See also QWERTY keyboards
kriging (mathematics) The geostatistical technique of calculating a grid value by summing the values of weighted surrounding measurements. The weights are inversely proportional to the distance from the grid point and proportional to the distance between measured points. In this way the "nugget effect" of is countered.
Landsat (hardware) An earth resources series of space satellites launched by the National Aeronautical Space Agency of the United States of America. The first was launched as Earth Resources Technology Satellite (ERTS-1) on July 23 1972 using the Nimbus platform. After a succesful implementation it was renamed Landsat-1. The series continued on Nimbus (1 to 3) and modified TIROS (4 -7) chassis. Sensors carried include return beam vidicon cameras (1,2), multispectral scanner (1 to 5), thematic mapper (4 to 6) and the expanded thermatic mapper (7) . Though it was developed with monitoring Russian wheat crops in mind, it has become a very successful geological tool. c.f: MSS; ETM+; Thematic Mapper. Source: Drury (1993), 59.
laptop computer (hardware) A computer which is small enough to rest comfortably on your lap while you are travelling in a plane or train and allow you to work on it in that position. To allow this it has a mouse and keyboard built in to the housing, an adjustable tilt screen and battery power. See also "mobile computing" and "desktop PC".
LAS (file format) Log Ascii Standard. A standard for wireline geophysical borehole logs. It is a public domain standard developed by the Society of Professional Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) and being ASCII it has become the default standard for PC based log processing prgorams.
least squares method compare with: kriging
legacy systems IT and MIS jargon for obsolete computer systems that are too expensive or difficult to replace.
Leica Geosystems A United States company specialising in survey grade software and technology for capture and presentation of 3D spatial information. A spin off, in 1998, from the acquisition of civilian GPS technology from Magnavox by the Swiss firm Leica Group in 1994. c.f: Geographic Information System.
linear voltage differential transducer (hardware) A device used in mine monitoring for measuring rock movement. It has the advantage of measuring acceleration rather than displacement so can be used where large displacements would destroy displacement based meters.
LIS (file format) The wireline geophysical borehole log standard developed by Schlumberger SEACO. It is proprietary binary standard and has recently been superseded by the DLIS standard which has been adopted by POSC. See also LAS and POSC.
listserver (software) Software which re transmits an e-mail message to group of people. Used for special interest groups to provide a bulletin service.
LVDT c.f: Linear Voltage Differential Transducer.
Mac c.f: Apple Macintosh.
Mac II (hardware) The Macintosh range of computers followed the same pattern of personal computer until the Mac SE which proved to be a transitional machine, using the Mac II 68030 processor, a colour monitor and an IBM PC type case. This evolved to the Mac II and Quadra which are more of a workstation and multi user server than a personal computer. c.f: personal computer
Apple Macintosh.

Management Information Systems (management practice) A philosophy of computer system development which involves the premise that all computing can be most efficiently done by a properly constructed database. It requires an enormous amount of systems analysis and generally is not cost effective for scientific groups. Often used as the name for the computing department which is like calling Exploration, the Plate Tectonics Department.
mapping packages A computer program designed for cartographers. It will allow for symbols to be assigned to points, have some contouring algorithms and a way of handling coordinates and logitude and latitude.
masonic calendar (mathematics) Freemasons use a calendar which is essentially what the British used but with Bishop Usshers Anno Mundi as the origin, but notated as Year of Light (YL) and the Latin month names replacing the English.
- As for the Julian calendar until the evening of September 2 (Julian) / morning of September 14 (Gregorian) 1752.
- The Gregorian calendar from then on. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Microsoft Excel date number; Mayan calendar; Islamic calendar; Jewish calendar; Metonic Cycle; Anno Mundi.
Mayan calendar (mathematics) The calendar used by the Mayan people. The rules are:
- 18 months of 20 days each c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar. 140.
metadata The data that describes the structure and layout of a data base. It includes such tools as data dictionaries and table definitions but can also be geological like coverage maps, or index diagrams on traditional geological maps.
Metonic Cycle (mathematics) The Metonic Cycle, after the fifth century B.C Athenian astronomer, Meton, adds a the leap month in seven out of nineteen years. It doing so it matches the lunar cycle to the solar cycle. However there is still a short fall of five days. This cycle was discovered independently by the Egyptians and Babylonians before Meton. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Microsoft Excel date number; Mayan calendar; Islamic calendar; Jewish calendar. 152-154.
Microsoft Excel date number (mathematics) The time system used in the software Microsoft Excel. The rules are:
- counts the days and hours as decimal real numbers from Saturday, January 0, 1900 at 0000 hrs that is 12 am (Gregorian) in the time zone, designated in the computer settings. Saturday, January 0, 1900 (December 31, 1899) is the old standard mean solar day, as compared to the sidereal day which is measured from the rotation of the planets.
Features are:
- conversion to Gregorian calendar and hours, minutes seconds system is provided. c.f: Gregorian calendar; Julian (original) calendar; Julian calendar; French 1792 calendar; Mayan calendar.
Microsoft Internet Explorer (software) An Internet browser software that includes interfaces for World Wide Web, listservers and news from newsgroups. c.f: Mosaic; Netscape Navigator; world wide web; newsgroup.
MINCOM (company) MINCOM Pty Ltd a software company based in Brisbane Queensland. Has developed Geolog. See Geolog.
mine monitoring (management practice) The techniques and philosophy of remotely observing a mine. Examples are slope alarms, robot theodolites and SCADA. c.f: SCADA
Programmable Logic Controller
Polytron gas measuring head
differential flow meter
Oval flow meter.

M.I.S c.f: Management Information Systems.
MIS c.f: Management Information Systems.
mobile computing (management practice) Any style of work which involves carrying around a computer. It includes car faxes and computers, laptop computers, pen based computers, palmtop computers, personal organisers, and the old portable computers about the size of a briefcase.
Mosaic (software) Open source software, moderated by the University of Illinois???, for viewing World Wide Web documents in Hypertext Markup Language. c.f: World Wide Web; Hypertext Markup Language.
mouse (hardware) A mouse is a hand sized plastic object with two or three buttons that is used to control the position of the cursor on the computer screen. There are two types of construction, electro-optical and mechanical. If you turn the mouse upside down, the mechanical has a rubber ball inserted in it or alternatively the electro-optical has a diode shining red light. An electro-optical mouse also needs a reflecting mousepad to work.
Microsoft Disk Operating System. see DOS.
multi spectral scanner (hardware) A four band sensor, multi spectral scanner, used by the National Aeronautical Space Agency of the United States of America for the Landsat satellite series 1 to 5. c.f: Landsat; ETM+; Thematic Mapper. Source: Drury (1993), c2001003, 59.
National Mapping (company) The national mapping agency in Australia that provides base map data in digital form like drainage, topography and cultural features.
Netscape Navigator (software) Internet browsing software, now owned by the Novell Corporation which includes e-mail, listservers, news, FTP and World Wide Web browsers. c.f: World Wide Web; listserver; newsgroup.
newsgroup (software) Software which is activated by a universal resource locator serial number, and returns an hierachical filing system of annotated text files. Links are made form the subject that a new file is submitted under. In this way a thread of conversation on a topic is built. c.f: universal resource locator.
nugget effect (mathematics) An artefact of a data set where the majority of samples (measurements) have been collected from the same locality therefore biasing the data set mean towards the value of that locality. c.f: kriging.
one to many relationship (mathematics) This a relationship between entities in a relational model where one entity like SAMPLE which has the unique deetails of a soil sample has associated with it many analyses stored in the entity RESULTS. therefore for every sample there are many analyses. c.f: relational database.
operating system The fundamental level of software used to manage the basic operations of a computer such as memory access, storage access, printer, screen and keyboard control. The person who develops and maintains an operating system is known as a Systems Programmer.
Oval flow meter (hardware) A very low volume flow meter that gives output as an electric signal. This makes it suitable for mine monitoring especially lubrication and possibly depressurisation systems.
paper tape c.f: secondary storage.
paperless office An office where all tasks are done by computer and so there are no books, filing cabinets, letters, memos or even paper printouts.
Paradigm Geophysical An Israeli company specialising in petroleum exploration software. c.f: Geolog.
PC Personal Computer. Originally a model name for the first IBM desktop computer. Now a generic name for all computers that are principally can be only used by one person at the same time. c.f: also IBM PC, IBM XT, IBM AT, IBM

PC DOS The operating system for original IBM personal computers. It is identical to MS DOS which was licensed to IBM PC compatibles. see DOS.
PCMIA card c.f:: secondary storage.
PD54 (mathematics) A satellite image processing algorithm developed by the Australian, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Land and Water Division. In principle green and red reflected light for each pixel are plotted in a cross plot. The cluster of points occupies a rough rectangle with the long axis at 45 degrees. The long edge of the rectangle closet to the red axis is thought to be the limit decided by the pure soil or rock colour. The opposite edge is the limit of the full vegetation response. Therefore, pixels between the parallel edges are expected to have a vegetation density equivalent to the perpendicular distance from the soil edge divided by the separation of the edges. It is particularly suited to arid and semi arid regions as the response is inert to seasonal variation in vegetation moisture content. The acronym is from the perpendicular distance for band 5 and 4. The original Landsat mulitispectral scanner had red as band 5 and green as band 4. c.f: Landsat; MSS. Source: Pickup et al. (1993/ ISI:A1993KN75900002),
pen based computer A mobile computer which is designed to use a stylus rather than a mouse and keyboard. Used extensively for warehouse and workshop applications in the United States. Would be ideal for geological field computing when costs go down, and local suppliers start carrying them.
peripherals other associated machinery that is connected to a computer. Examples are printers, plotters, fax machines, digitisersand external secondary storage devices.
Personal Iris A brand of UNIX workstation with advanced graphics capabilities especially modelling surfaces in 3 dimensions. It is made by Silicon Graphics and uses the IRIX operating system.
Petroseis A software program by Petrosys Pty Ltd. It stores the location of seismic lines, the interpreted horizons for those lines. Incorporated mapping and contouring utilities can be used to produce horizon maps.
Petrosys Petrosys Pty Ltd has developed a seismic interpretation plotting program called Petroseis.
Petrotechnical Open Software Corporation A non-profit organisation based in Houston, Texas. It is a consortium of mainly American petroleum exploration companies. The object is to define a series of standards including hardware, operating systems and data formats so that companies using different programs in their work can use the same data set for each program thus preventing errors and saving on computing costs. It is often refered to by its anagram - POSC.
The smallest point on a video screen or image.
plane (hardware) Used by workstation manufacturers to describe the number of bits allocated to a video screen pixel. Eg: a 4 bit plane screen have each pixel described by 4 bits (binary digits) and this would result in 16 possible shades for a pixel. An 8 bit plane screen would have 256 shades per pixel.
PLC c.f: Programmable Logic Controller.
plug and play This is where you stick an extra bit, eg: CD-ROM video camera or disk drive, on the computer and when you turn it on the computer knows its connected and does all the setup for you automatically. It is still a wish at the moment but some industrial computers in factories have it so it can't be too far away for the home or office user
polygonal method The method of gridding a surface by connecting lines of equidistance between measurement points.
Polytron gas measuring head A device used for measuring gas concentrations of nitrous oxides and carbon monoxide. It has no moving parts and produces an electrical output which makes it particular suitable for mine monitoring.
portable computer See mobile computing.
POSC c.f: Petrotechnical Open Software

post processing The computing that is required after data has been delivered from the field or field contractor.
PPDM c.f: Public Petroleum Data Model.
Programmable Logic Controller An industrial computer characterised by many input and output plugs. It is used to automatically control machinery.
programmer A person whose job is to type in a computer program. This is known as "coding" and involves knowledge of the syntax, spelling and grammar of the programming language used. Examples of programming languages commonly used in geoscience computing are Basic, Visual Basic, FORTRAN, C, and C++.
proprietary format A file format that is owned by the software company. If other software companies use that format the first company simply changes it slightly to make the competing software unable to use the files. If this standard were to be published it would become open and this is a better situation for the owners of the data in those files.
prototyping (system) The program development method which involves making a quick rough version and then involving the people who are going to use the program to improve it in many small steps, at each step increasing the amount the program is used in real practice.
PS/1 (compatible) c.f: IBM PS/1.
Public Petroleum Data Model This is an organisation of petroleum exploration and production data types in the form of normalised tables (flat files). The PPDM standard is administered by a non profit society based in Canada. This model has significant support from Canadian oil companies but has not yet been adopted elsewhere. The much broader Finder data model uses PPDM for its well tables.
QWERTY keyboards The most common style of keyboard. There are several types, the standard one on a PC is known as the "IBM 101 key keyboard". Other computer manufacturers such as Digital Equipment Corporation and Sun have their own version but they are all variations on the original typewriter keyboard and are known as "QWERTY" keyboards, named from the top line of letters on these keyboards. See also keyboard.
radio-facies (mathematics) a) interpretive/abstract: A radio-facies is where a pixel in a satellite image is expected to be related to neighbouring pixels on the basis of relationships in the geology, land use, and atmospheric conditions of the land pictured. The term is a label for the general concept of inter-relatedness, using the prefix radio to designate satellite imagery as the source, and is adopted from earth science, in which discipline they are also aware of the continuity and inter-relatedness of objects within the same time or space plane, and have the formal term: facies. The relationship of the pixels is confined by Walther's law and that the sequence of images used for the observations does not contain a significant hiatus.
b) physical/descriptive: A radio-facies is defined as an areally restricted group of reflected radiation whose appearance and characteristics are distinguished from those of adjacent groups. Various attributes may be used to define facies: reflection configuration, continuity, intensity and frequency spectra, absorption, internal geometrical relations (as with the reflection of near infra-red from the mesophyll layer of living plant leaves), and external three dimensional form (texture mapping). c.f: continuity; facies; seismic facies. 283.
radius of influence (mathematics) The maximum distance from a sample point that a similar sample can be expected to produce the same result.
RAM drive (secondary storage) A section of random access memory set aside for secondary storage of files just like a super fast disk. c.f: secondary storage

record (logical concept) c.f: file.
relational database A database that uses key words in each table to link the tables together. The inventor Ted Codd has 12 rules that define the characterisitics of a relational database, but there has never been a commercial product that meets all 12. One of the best is the PC product RBase. Xbase databases have some relational attributes but ODBC compliant databases are considered the practical relational standard.
Repetition Strain Injury
An injury caused by many repetitions of the same movement. Computer operators are prone to this problem because computers having a serial intelligence require everything to be done the same way each time, unlike humans who like and are designed for variety.
relevance (mathematics) The degree to which the data "has bearing on or having reference to the matter in hand" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition). c.f: consistency; continuity; timeliness. relevant.
reservoir management unit (system) A reservoir management unit (RMU) is a group of petroleum reservoir zones that have similar reservoir properties. c.f: GRU.
RSI c.f: Repetition Strain Injury.
RTU This is an anagram of remote terminal unit. These less powerful computers located in the field to collect information from nearby instruments and relay this to a central collecting station.
ruggedness The ability of a computer, especially a portable computer, to withstand dropping, heat, cold, prying toddler mouthes, dust, Terex trucks, explosions, rain, field hands fat jabby fingers, Coca Cola, coffee, crumbs, glue. Basically there hasn't been a computer yet that could handle a day at the supermarket without coddling let alone a mine. So treat them all delicately no matter what the salesman told you.
A commercial software program developed by the CSIRO Division of Geomechanics to design rock support in underground and open cut mines. SARAT is an anagram of Structural and Reinforcement Analysis Toolkit
SCADA System Control and Data Acquisition. see also: Mine Monitoring.
scanned image A scanned image is a computer picture. The original picture is drawn in colour by hand or a photograph is taken. This is then placed on a scanner which looks like a small colour photocopier. This device uses a laser to determine the shade at an array of points across the picture. The greater the number of points the greater the fidelity of the reproduction. Screen icons are done in this way on a 32 x 32 array.
A tool of the Database Administrator which shows an integrated picture of the data that a particular database user will see. It is composed of a number of ENTITIES which are discrete portions of data. In reality the portions of data may be from different sub databases but to the user of the schema they appear to be in one database.
SCSI Small Computer Serial Interface used to connect external disk drvies, CD-Rom drives and other intelligent peripherals to a PC.
secondary storage This is the generic name for floppy disks, hard disks, 9 track tapes, cassettes, EXABYTE cartridges, PCMIA cards, paper tape, RAM drives. The name is derived from the requirement that most computer systems have of reading/writing data directly from the microprocessor to the computers memory (primary storage) and then down/up loading to secondary storage at another time.
A standard storage file for processed reflection seismic data. It is a binary file developed by the Society of Exploration Geophysicists based in Houston, USA. There are related standards for files of raw data.
seismic facies (mathematics) "A seismic facies is defined as an areally restricted group of seismic reflections whose appearance and characteristics are distinguished from those of adjacent groups.....Various attributes may be used to define facies: reflection configuration, continuity, amplitude and frequency spectra, internal velocity, internal geometrical relations, and external three dimensional form." c.f: radio-facies; facies. Source: Miall (1990), 283.
SiteManager A database application for storing hydroligical and geochemistry with an environmental bent. It is a joint venture between the environmental consultants Woodward-Clyde and the software firm Consolve Incorporated. see also EDGE.
Solaris c.f: SPARCstation.
Solaris 2 c.f: SPARCstation.
SPARCstation A Sun workstation using variants of Unix as an operating system- SunOS initially, then Solaris and finally, the System V release 4 compatible, Solaris 2.
spreadsheet (software) spreadsheets or worksheets are the favourite computer program of engineers and accountants. Ideal for freetyle column by column calculations, the original was SuperCalc but you would be more familiar with names like Lotus 123, Microsoft Excel and Borland's, Quattro Pro.
SQL See Structured Query Language
Structural and Reinforcement Analysis Toolkit (software) A commercial software program developed by the CSIRO Division of Geomechanics to design rock support in underground and open cut mines. SARAT is an anagram of Structural and Reinforcement Analysis Toolkit c.f: CSIRO.
Structured Query Language SQL - The standard language used to access "Open System" databases built using database programs like Rdb, Sybase, and Microsoft SQL Server but not Dbase III or other Xbase programs
stylus The "pen" in a pen based computer. Looks like a pen but has no ink. Generally is just a piece of sharpened plastic that makes it easy for you to exert the necessary pressure on the computer screen and make an electrical connection beteen two conducting layers separated by a flexible insulating sheet. These are built into the computer screen substrate and are so thin the underlying image shows through them.
A manufacturer of Unix workstations. Products inlude the SUN and SPARCstation series. c.f: also Unix, workstation.
Sybase A relational database utility that links PC, Mac , UNIX and IBM mainframe databases together. The advantage of Sybase is that it links in to normal software on each machine. In the case of Mac's and PC's the user the retains the full friendliness of their programs even though they are attached to unfriendly computer systems (IBM mainframes etc.) also see: Oracle
systems analysis
The discipline of determining the logical structure, processes and necessary data used in a particular part (system) of a physical business, department or research group with the intent to computerise some of those processes.
systéme probatoire de l'observation de la terre (hardware) February 1986 marked the launch of a new satellite series the Systéme Probatoire de l'Observation de la Terre to an elevation of 830 km above the earth. They were designed to be complimentary to the Landsat series and primarily for European agriculture. The satellites (1 to 4) are fitted with two haute resolution visible (HRV) sensors. Each sensor has a swathe of 60 km, with pixels of 10 x 10 m for panchromatic and 20 x 20m for multi-spectral. The earth is re-imaged every 26 days. c.f: Landsat; HRV.
systems programmer c.f: operating system.
table A table is a group of fields (types of data) that have a common factor (technically known as the index field). Several fields make a table and several tables make a database. It is an equivalent structure to an ASCII flat file in Fortran/Basic programming.
template A blank form, document, spreadsheet or map with special features already drawn or typed in. Examples of special features include standard formulae, standard title blocks and graticules, form letters, letterheads and addresses, field form blanks. The geologist needs only to type in the uniqe details for that particular job rather than doing the document from scratch.
Terra Search (company) A company of contract geologists based in Townsville, Queensland that developed the database product EXPLORERII. Using this product they did a lot of good work integrating various geochemical surveys into the one regional database on behalf of the state surveys. c.f: EXPLORER II.
Thematic Mapper (hardware) A seven band sensor used on the, National Aeronautical Space Agency of the United States of America, Landsat satellite series 4 to 6. c.f: Landsat; MSS; ETM+. 59.
timeliness (mathematics) The degree to which the data "has bearing on or having reference to the matter in hand" (The Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition). c.f: consistency; continuity; timeliness. Source: Anonymous (1999/ Part No. ESS185), timely.
TOSline (hardware) A signal system set up by Toshiba to allow their industrial computers to talk to each other over a couple of pieces of rough wire. Ideal for mine sites where old blasting wire or lighting flex can be used. c.f: PLC.
transcription The keying of the data from a geologist's notebook into a computer. This leads to many errors and eventually will be made redundant by geological field computers.
Twisted pair cable Special but relatively cheap cable ( compared with co-axial) to allow computers to talk to each other. Has one source and one return wire. Like TV ribbon cable it has the advantage that any external interference tends cancel out. Where the computers have good error checking of the communication signals (eg TOSline), you can use lighting flex instead. See PLC, TOSline.
ULTRIX The operating system for the computer called DECstation. See also AT&T UNIX, DECstation and UNIX.
universal resource locator (file format) A self contained serial number for accessing files from a remote computer. Used especially for Internet protocols.It is composed of four parts. The first is an indicator of the type of reponse required (http, ftp, e-mail), the second is the unique computer address (,, and the third the file specification(/, /index.htm, /dealers/ms-word.cgi). The fourth optional part can be parameters (?search=Austl!order=alpha) for where the file is a database and the response can be summarised. The full address may look something like this:!order=alpha
UNIX A family of operating systems derived from a prototype develeped by AT+T Bell Research Laboratories in the United States. It was specifically designed for running many programs at the same time and has such features as process spawning and recursion. It was given by the research labs to Universities who not having to pay royalties assigned lots of students to work on developing it. Hence the many varients (Irix etc).
The person who uses a computer program purely as a tool to complete an independent task. Examples are the Mine Geologist using SARAT to design a rock bolting plan, and a Petroleum Explorationist using GeoQuest to define seismic horizons.
URL c.f: universal resource locator.
variogram See radius of influence.
VAX A mini mainframe computer originally designed for scientific computing. It is built by DEC and uses the proprietary operating system VMS. It is quickly becoming outmoded by the graphics oriented workstations using the UNIX operating system. c.f: DEC.
VAXstation A workstation by Digital which has a type of Windows in which you can run VMS applications and also X-Windows applications.
VMS The operating system for a VAX computer. see VAX.
VORTEX meters meter using the decreasing sonic velocity of disturbed flow within a pipe to estimate the velocity of the fluid. Subsequently, clibration is very important as sonic velocities vary with fluid type and viscosity.
Windows This is a kind of operating system that allows different programs to run in different sections of your screen. There is two major types - X-Windows for UNIX systems and Microsoft Windows for DOS systems.
workstation (hardware) A computer which in capacity and power sits between a personal computer (standard PC's and Macintoshes) and mini computers. Workstations were originally developed for drawing packages and have the best graphical capabilities of any type of computer. They range from cheaper beefed up custom PC's, through Macintosh II's, Suns, Hewlett Packards, RISC computers and at the top the specialist Silicon Graphics machines.
world wide web (hardware) The network made with computers connected by dedicated telephone lines using the Internet protocol with special web server software. This software automatically transmits hypertext mark-up language (HTML) format files when a request with a serial number, in universal resource locator format, is forwarded to the particular computer which holds a copy of the file. HTML readers such as Mosaic, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer will display the returned file on your local computer. c.f: hyper text mark-up language; universal resource locator.
Xbase (file format) The generic standard database used by proprietary software FoxPro, dBase III etc. c.f: data base.
XT, compatible c.f: IBM XT.