Data Standards

Data standards are documented agreements on representation, format, definition, structuring, tagging, transmission, manipulation, use, and management of common data.

The use of common terminology and common data element definitions enables the integration of databases, and promotes more efficient and effective use of data by users of commonly defined data from disparate sources.

The Australian government policy on Public Data requires, where they exist, the use of agreed open standards when making data available.

Geoscience Australia uses domain standards that are openly available, to provide a common language for communicating ideas and provide consistency of meaning of the data collected, research undertaken and products created. The Strategy and Vision for maximising our data potential is supported by data management that results in trusted, reusable, interoperable, findable and accessible data.

Geoscience Australia advocates the use of many data standards and we are actively represented on standards organisations that govern these standards. For example, the International Organisation for Standardization (through Standards Australia), Open Geospatial Consortium and the World Wide Web Consortium.

One of the most commonly used standards in Geoscience Australia is ISO 19115 - Geographic Information - Metadata which is used to catalogue our data and data products.

In developing and maintaining national geoscience data standards, Geoscience Australia strives to consult as widely as possible with the geoscience and geospatial industry. We aim for excellence in the provision of our standards and advice. The development and maintenance of our standards depends on cooperative effort and consultation with those who have an interest in the value and use of data standards.

Geoscience Australia is part of the international research community and as such supports FAIR data principles (data that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). More information on how Geoscience Australia meets these principles is outlined on the GA and FAIR data principles page.

Geoscience Australia has developed a profile (GA Profile) of the ISO 19115:2014 Geographic Information metadata standard. The GA Profile is designed to support the documentation and discovery of Geoscience Australia datasets and other resources in our catalogue, as well as the data management and sharing requirements within the agency.

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Standard metadata and vocabularies for our data catalogue

At Geoscience Australia we have an enterprise data catalogue, eCat, where data products can be found. This catalogue uses a metadata profile based on the ISO 19115:2014 standard which allows us to describe our data using an agreed community standard. We are also standardising the geoscience keywords to better enable search of the catalogue.

Information about the Geoscience Australia catalogue platform, metadata profile and schema used in eCat, and the vocabularies used across Geoscience Australia, are available via the following links:

ISO19115-3:2016 Metadata Profile Validator

Metadata are stored as XML documents conforming to ISO 19115-3:2016, the standardised XML schema representation of ISO 19115-1:2014. The ISO 19115-3:2016 Metadata Profile Validator is an online tool for users to validate individual XML metadata records against the ISO19115-3:2016 schema and GA Profile.

Previous version

The previous version of the Geoscience Australia metadata profile is an extension of the ANZLIC Metadata Profile, a standard used widely in the Australian and New Zealand spatial community. The ANZLIC Metadata Profile is a profile of ISO 19115:2005 which has been superseded by ISO 19115-1:2014. Metadata are stored as XML documents conforming to ISO 19139:2007, the standardised XML schema representation of ISO 19115:2005.

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Standards organisations

A standards organisation, sometimes referred to as a standards body, is an organisation with authority to endorse official standards for given applications. Geoscience Australia collaborates with a number of Australian and international bodies to develop agreed standards for data transfer and best practice.

Geospatial data standards

International Organisation for Standardization (ISO)

Standards Australia (Australian representative on ISO)

Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)

Geological data standards

GeoSciML and EarthResourceML are international data transfer standards for geological and mineral resources data, developed by the IUGS Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI) and Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC).

The Government Geoscience Information Committee (GGIC), representing all Australian and New Zealand government geological surveys, has endorsed GeoSciML as the Australasian geological data transfer standard. MineralTenementML is a GGIC standard for delivery of mineral tenement data.

GeoSciML (OGC Geoscience Markup Language)



Geophysical data standards

Australian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (ASEG)

Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG)

Building and Construction standards

The development of the building codes ensures that all buildings are resistant to earthquakes and cyclones.

Oceanographic standards

Tsunami research and the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre are underpinned by standards coordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) within UNESCO.

Maritime Limits and Boundaries

IHO S‐121 Maritime Limits and Boundaries Data Exchange is being developed by Geoscience Australia in partnership with the UN Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea and the S‐121 Project Team.

Discrete Global Grid Systems

The Digital Earth Australia platform uses the OGC’s Discrete Global Grid Systems (DGGS) standard.

International GeoSample Number (IGSN)

The objective of the IGSN e.V. is to implement and promote standard methods for locating, identifying, and citing physical samples with confidence by operating an international IGSN registration service with a distributed infrastructure for use by and benefit to its members.

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The use of common terminology and common data element definitions enables the integration of databases, and promotes more efficient and effective use of data by users of commonly‐defined data from disparate sources. The use of 'Best Practice' documents also supports standardisation.

Mapping/Spatial Standards

The Spatial Data Dictionary (2004) is a specification for the capture of geoscientific spatial data created in 2004. It describes fields for each feature type in a database, containing the themes created from Geoscience Australia's databases. It forms a foundation for the production of geoscientific spatial data by specifying rules regarding the structure of such data.

Standard geological map colours [ZIP 765KB]: In the 1980s, Geoscience Australia's predecessor, the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), published an Australian standard colour scheme for geological maps. However, the increasing complexity of geological maps published in recent years has meant that maintaining a single colour scheme for all geological maps is no longer practical. The BMR colour scheme may, however, be applied to some geological maps as a rough guide.

Symbols used on geological maps: This publication, published by the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), presents standard and special (preferred) geological map symbols that are for use at all stages of map preparation and publication. Drafting specifications are included. The symbols were endorsed by the Chief Government Geologists' Conference, 1988.

Geoscience Australia Topographic Data and Map Specifications: This publication is made up of three main sections; Section 1 defines the feature based model used for the National Topographic Database, Section 2 provides the rules and guidelines for the generation of the Geoscience Australia 1:100 000 and 1:250 000 National Topographic Map Series products and Section 3 provides information on a variety of topics related to revision processes and materials, model structure, general concepts in relation to data capture and attribution.

Reference Databases

AusGeoRef: Includes more than 170,000 bibliographic references to Australian geoscience literature.

Australian Stratigraphic Units Database: This database provides the primary national standard for geological names in Australia. It records information on all Australian stratigraphic units and their usage in literature, making it a centralised reference point for all Australian stratigraphic unit information. The database is also the repository for definition descriptions for these units.

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Standard web services used to deliver our data

Where possible, data products at Geoscience Australia are delivered through web services. Web services allow access to GA data without having to store datasets locally. GA supports a variety of standard web service protocols including - RESTful API and OGC services.

The services can be found both in eCat and in an online register

To consume these services you need access to speciality software. If the processed data is available, the acquisition method will be discoverable in eCat.

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The objectives of the Australian Stratigraphic Units Database (ASUD) are to provide the primary national standard for geological names in Australia and to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of communication of geological unit information.

Search the Australian Stratigraphic Units Database

Stratigraphic Units Search

If you are looking for information on a particular stratigraphic unit, you can perform a search of the stratigraphic units database. You will need to know something about the unit you are looking for (e.g. name, age, location) in order to perform this search.

Stratigraphic Units by State/Territory

If you are interested in finding all stratigraphic units within a state or territory of Australia, you can instead view a summary report or download more comprehensive .txt files for your chosen region. The summary report lists all known stratigraphic units for that region, as well as their first published use recorded by the database (units established prior to ~1970 may have older references than the database indicates), their definition reference, an indication of how well the unit has been described, previous names (for current units) and what name replaces the non-current names, where known. If the unit occurs in more than one State/Territory this is also indicated. The .txt files download is suitable for importing into Excel, or a database, and provides all the information available in a stratigraphic units search for all the units in the region selected.

Reference Database Search

References that cite stratigraphic information are indexed to enhance and update the ASUD. If you wish to check whether a particular reference has been indexed or not, or are interested in checking which stratigraphic units have been discussed in a particular reference you can choose to search for that reference within the reference database. You will need to know something about the reference you are interested in (e.g. year or journal of publication, author, keyword) in order to perform this search.

Planning on publishing a stratigraphic name?

If you are planning to discuss stratigraphy in a future publication and especially if you have new information to share, it will be most effectively communicated if you get the nomenclature correct. You can check all the available information about, and known references to stratigraphic units recorded in in the stratigraphic units database, including published examples of misspelt and incorrectly named units.

If you plan to publish a new stratigraphic unit or definition, please reserve the name prior to publishing. This will ensure that the name is suitable and available for your unit and will not be confused with existing units. If you are establishing a new unit, you should aim to define it, as soon as you know enough about it. The instructions for defining a stratigraphic unit can guide you in assembling the appropriate information, to describe the unit to others. These instructions can also be found online.

About the database

The Australian Stratigraphic Units Database (ASUD) originated as the National Register of Stratigraphic Names in 1949. The register was originally set up to help geoscientists adhere to the (then) newly created Australian Code of Stratigraphic Nomenclature (Lenz, et al, 1996). All information was held in a card file system until 1979 when the database was first developed electronically. Some of the card files were transferred to the database, but there is still legacy data held only in the card files. This may be relevant when reviewing very long-standing units.

The database now records information on all Australian stratigraphic units and their usage in literature, making it a centralised reference point for all Australian stratigraphic unit information. The database is also the repository for definition descriptions for these units.

For many digital databases and digital geological maps, the database can act as an authority table with the potential to automatically provide current information on the related parentage, age and province.

The database is maintained by Geoscience Australia in collaboration with the Geological Society of Australia's Australian Stratigraphy Commission.

How to cite the database

Geoscience Australia and Australian Stratigraphy Commission. (2017). Australian Stratigraphic Units Database.

The database is updated daily, so we suggest you list the year you viewed the database for your paper and/or publication reference list.

Where can I get help?

For more information please contact, or contact the Australian Stratigraphy Commission member in the relevant state or territory.

You can also refer to the Guide to the Australian Stratigraphic Names Database. Note: This guide presents an overview of the database structure and links to other AGSO databases as they were in 1996. There have been subsequent modifications to both the database structure and the presentation format but the purpose, general structure and types of reports available from the database remain current.

Using the Stratigraphic Units Database

Stratigraphic Nomenclature