Undergraduate Projects Improve Analysis of Geochronological Data

Feb 2018. Undergraduate students in the Computer Sciences Department at the College of Charleston are developing open-source software applications and infrastructure aimed at improving access to and analysis of geochronological and other earth-science data. The students are working under the direction of Dr. Jim Bowring at the Cyber Infrastructure Research & Development Lab for the Earth Sciences (CIRDLES). Four of the students recently presented their work at the 2017 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting. Topsoil is highlighted below.

 
Topsoil: A community driven open source replacement for ISOPLOT
Topsoil is a desktop application and Java library that creates data visualizations for geochronological data. “Topsoil” is an anagram of “Isoplot”, an enormously successful Microsoft Excel Add-In with similar capabilities that now works only in older versions of Excel. Using Topsoil, a user is able to import or manually enter data, which is stored in tables that can be organized and edited by the user. The table is used to create a plot that is freely explorable, and with several built-in plot features that can be toggled on or off, such as uncertainty and concordia line. Plot features are dependent on the isotope system of the given table. Current options are Uranium-Lead or Uranium-Thorium analyses, and more isotope systems will be available to the user in the future.
 
Advancement of Topsoil depends on the active involvement of the community to guide development and for assistance with design and coding, specification of capabilities, and develpment of help resources. Contributions to Topsoil can be made at https://github.com/cirdles/topsoil.