What is AuScope?

GPlates development by the EarthByte Project is part of the AuScope infrastructure-development programme. AuScope Ltd is a non-profit company formed to facilitate the implementation of a world-class infrastructure system for earth science, funded by the Australian Government under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS).

The EarthByte Project participates in two components of the AuScope programme:

As part of this participation, GPlates developers at the EarthByte Project collaborate with other AuScope projects:

GPlates in the AuScope Grid

The goal of the AuScope Grid component is to build an e-research infrastructure to federate nationally distributed data sets, to develop tools to manipulate large data volumes, and to establish an appropriate governance framework to ensure sustainability.

The EarthByte Project believes that Australian crustal and mantle processes over geological timescales cannot be understood outside of a plate tectonic context. However, no standard information model exists to explore the causes and effects of lithosphere-mantle interaction in accordance with past Australian plate configurations. Geochemists, geophysicists and structural geologists would benefit from the ability to reconstruct and exchange data linked to plate-tectonic information.

The EarthByte Project participates in the AuScope Grid component to:

  1. develop the GPlates Geological Information Model (GPGIM) and its XML file-format representation, the GPlates Markup Language (GPML), to be able to meet the wider plate-tectonic needs of the users of the AuScope Grid
  2. link GPlates with the AuScope Grid as a grid client
  3. enable GPlates to function as an online map-making or plate-tectonic reconstruction service on the AuScope grid

Thus, our GPlates development efforts for the AuScope Grid focus on:

GPlates in Modelling & Simulation

The goal of the Modelling & Simulation component is to build a toolkit of simulation, modelling, inversion and data mining tools.

The EarthByte Project believes that existing software tools that handle plate-tectonic reconstructions are entirely inadequate for the questions that geodynamic modellers are now addressing. The plate-kinematic information derived from plate-tectonic models may be used as boundary-conditions to geodynamic mantle-modeling and simulations; in turn, the results of geodynamic modeling and simulation lead to a better understanding of the causes of the plate-tectonic process.

The EarthByte Project participates in the AuScope Modelling & Simulation component to develop GPlates to provide kinematic surface-constraints for geodynamic simulation software such as the widely-used, open-source, spherical mantle-convection package CitComS and the next-generation AuScope-funded mantle-convection package Underworld.

We are also working with the developers of fellow AuScope Modelling & Simulation project Pplates, to design and implement data interoperability between the two applications. This approach will retain the different strengths of the applications, while enabling them to be used together by a research dealing with plate-tectonic reconstructions. GPlates will focus on GIS-like information processing and interactivity, while Pplates will focus on the physics of plate deformation. To implement this data interoperability, we will extend the GPlates Geological Information Model (GPGIM) to include new feature types which model the data to be shared (such as, for example, Pplates meshes). Pplates will be extended to be able to read and write these new feature types in GPML.