Geoscience DWG


Beaufils, Mickael (BRGM) - Group Chair

Group Charter:

Download Charter document

Group Description:


In a changing world with increasing concern about environment and resources, the relevance of GeoScience continues to grow.

The GeoScience Domain Working Group aims to connect people interested in this topic to develop, improve and promote technologies for GeoScience data description and sharing. This working group is to be hosted by the OGC and co-chaired with CGI / IUGS.

The GeoScience Domain Working Group will coordinate efforts with other earth science DWGs (agriculture, hydrology, etc…) under the umbrella of the Earth System Science DWG. A link with other 3D related working groups will also be developed (3DIM, Land and Infrastructure, Smart Cities…).


Purpose of the GeoScience Working Group

General scope

GeoScience usually encompasses several scientific domains which all aim to provide a better understanding, representation and more generally acknowledgment of the Earth: Geology, Geophysics, Hydrogeology, Mineralogy, Seismology, Tomography or Volcanology.

Those themes are deeply linked and need to be studied together to provide a global Earth Science System. Indeed, in administrative national or sub-national organizations, GeoScience most of the time constitutes the scope of Geological Surveys (e.g. BRGM for France, BGS for the UK, NR-CAN for Canada, Geoscience Australia for Australia etc…).

As GeoScience must be studied as a whole, a dedicated domain working group shall be created to address associated problems.

The purpose of the GeoScience DWG is to provide an open forum for work on geoscience data interoperability and access. To this end, the open forum will encourage collaborative development among participants representing many organizations and communities, and will ensure appropriate liaisons to other relevant working groups, both inside and outside OGC.

A Joint OGC / CGI - IUGS Working Group

The GeoScience DWG will be a joint OGC and CGI-IUGS working group. This schema offers several advantages.


The Commission for the Management and Application of Geoscience Information (CGI) is a working subcommittee of the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS). Its main mission is to enable the global exchange of knowledge about geoscience information and systems. It includes several Working Groups:

-        the GeoSciML and EarthResourceML aims to develop and test relevant and timely geological information standards. The ultimate objective of the working groups are to enable seamless web integration of selected information hosted at different locations in varied formats,

-        the Geoscience Terminology Working Group focuses on semantics and aims to establish a common multilingual core vocabulary by developing and expanding the Multilingual Thesaurus of Geoscience.

Actions from the CGI-IUGS led to several realizations:

-        definition of a conceptual model of geoscientific information based on existing information models and development of Geoscience Markup Language (GeoSciML). The latest version of GeoSciml (4.1) has been moved to the OGC umbrella and is now an OGC standard,

-        development of an interchange format for geoscience information related to mines and mineral resources (EarthResourceML),

-        identification of areas that require standardised vocabularies in order to enable data exchange and develop vocabularies for populating GeoSciML instance documents.

Today, GeoSciML and EarthResourceML have become widely-used formats for geoscience data exchange, especially amongst geological survey organizations. They also serve as the basis for the INSPIRE Geology and Mineral Resources data specifications.

Several collaborative projects and information systems have been built upon this standard, in Europe (e.g. Minerals4EU) or in the world (e.g. OneGeology).

A beneficial collaboration

Collaboration between CGI-IUGS and OGC has already been successfully demonstrated with the GeoSciML SWG.


The benefits to CGI-IUGS of working with OGC are:

·       a regular and more frequent OGC meeting schedule;

·       visibility and a level of accountability to a broader group of stakeholders and communities (ex : 3DIM, Land and Infrastructure, Smart City, Hydro, SensorWeb,…);

·       access to interoperability expertise and a set of web-based tools and practices supporting consensus-based standards development among widely dispersed and disparate organizations; and

·       exposure to an ecosystem of tool-builders, from researchers and small companies through to some of the largest geospatial and generic software houses.


The benefits to OGC of hosting a joint working group co-convened with CGI-IUGS include:

·       rigorous testing of OGC technologies for a domain that uses a wide variety of "observations" (in-situ monitoring, imagery, gridded simulations) that are in scope for Sensor Web Enablement (SWE), 3D and Coverage related activities ;

·       development of a profiling methodology for OGC standards; and

·       maturation of domain harmonization/dependencies methodology for spatial data infrastructures (SDI) of regional, national and international scope.

Relationship with other working groups

The array below summarizes the obvious relationship between the proposed working group and other existing working groups or initiatives. Though, it does not plan to be exhaustive and relationships with other non-cited WG in this array of groups may exist.

Connected working group

Relationship description

Earth Systems Science DWG

This WG may encompass the GeoScience WG.


Thematically centered WGs. The study of the those domains may be linked in uses cases.

GroundWaterML SWG

Hydrologic Feature SWG

Emergency & Disaster Management DWG

Energy & utilities DWG

Hydrology DWG

Meteorology & Oceanography DWG

Agriculture DWG

LandInfra DWG

3D Portrayal

3D data centered WG that can offer technologies or architectural solutions that can be used or enhanced for the GeoScience DWG.



Point Cloud DWG

Earth Systems Science DWG

General topics linked to Geoscience data sharing. GeoScience DWG will focus on exploiting results and advice from these DWG.

Geosemantics DWG



SensorThings SWG

Metadata DWG

Data quality DWG

Big data DWG

Citizen Science DWG

GeoSynchronisation SWG




Problem Statement

Geoscience data have to be delivered and used because they are of essential help to decision-making for spatial planning, mineral exploration, groundwater mapping and protection, pollution control, natural risk prevention and the characterization of local areas.

Geographical Information System (GIS) provide a means to create and analyze models of geological situations based on data, but only in 2D (or 2.5D).

Now, 3D geomodelling methods allow interpolation of data to improve our knowledge of deep geological structures in three spatial dimensions, increasing geological models and consequently, increasing amount of available data. Furthermore, there are a large number of geomodelling tools and geomodelling workflows.

Since the 1990’s major efforts have been undertaken in geomodelling methods and tools, visualization and modelling workflow (from structural models to physics processes), involving and affecting science, industry, governments.

It remains unclear how 3D geological and geophysical data and models might be transported and exchanged with end users in an interoperable approach.

Geological organizations work on the management of geological models for data integration, analysis and delivery. Interoperability is needed to overcome the heterogeneity of modeling tools, to couple models and to deliver geological information.

The current basis of geospatial data exchange has been worked out by organizations such as the Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. (OGC), ISO/TC 211, governmental organizations, the geographic information industry and the geographic information academic community. For instance, GeoSciML is successfully used in the exchange of 2D geological data.


Currently, there are no de-facto open exchange standards for 3D geological models. Geo3DMLand ResqML are standard-based model for the exchange of spatial and non-spatial properties of 3D geological data.

The GeoScience DWG needs to make statements and provide guidance on the use of OGC standards – in particular, as location-based and geo data applications are major contributors to the geological models. Further, with the advent of increased machine-machine communication, interoperability is gaining even more importance. OGC, therefore, should establish a position addressing all levels, including – but not limited to – science, implementation, market value, and societal effects.


Several existing standards will be relevant to the working group. These include:

·       GeoSciML4.1

·       GroundWaterML2

·       CityGML

·       GML – encoding standards for geospatial and technical data

·       WFS – interface for hosting and accessing feature data

·       ISO 19156 O&M – observations & measurements

·       SOS – interface for hosting and accessing observation data

·       SPS – interface for tasking observational sensors

·       WCS – interface for hosting and accessing gridded data (could include time-series)

·       WPS – interface for exposing processes and computing functionalities

·       ISO 19115 – geospatial information – metadata (for datasets)

·       ISO 19119 – geospatial information – metadata (for web services)


When needed, interaction with the relevant SWG / DWG will take place to ensure produced and pre-identified standards go along together. Proposal for enhancements might also be generated.


Furthermore, the working group will also consider several exchange semantic/format that are currently out of OGC’s umbrella:

·       EarthResourceML2

·       BoreholeML

·       Geo3DML

·       ResqML



Charter Members.

The GeoScience DWG will be a joint working group between the OGC and CGI-IUGS.

The group will have up to three co-chairs: up to two co-chairs will be elected by the DWG members; and the other shall be nominated by CGI-IUGS.

Membership of the group will be open to any OGC member at any time, in accordance with the OGC Policies and Procedures. CGI-IUGS may also nominate non- OGC members to participate in the group.

This will provide an open forum for work on geoscience data interoperability, and a route to publication through OGC's standards ladder (Discussion paper / Best Practice / Standard/ ISO Standard). The initial membership of the DOMAIN WG will consist of the following members and individuals with extensive education and experience in DOMAIN issues, namely:

BRGM (FR): François ROBIDA, Mickaël BEAUFILS, Christelle LOISELET, Sylvain GRELLET


GSC (Canada): Boyan BRODARIC

Key Activities

In the course of fulfilling its Charter, the Geoscience DWG will:

1. Develop communications materials, including white papers, a web site (including OGCNetwork and OGC twiki), and other documents that focus on the technical problem area of geoscience data management and exchange;

2. Manage a mailing list for discussion of domain-relevant issues within OGC;

3. Build relationships: engage members of the geospatial data community (including relevant OGC working groups) and the geoscience community. Foment and mediate communication within this target audience;

4. Conceive, design, coordinate, and implement demonstration, pilot, and production projects that demonstrate technical approaches to geoscience data management and exchange within the context of the OGC suite of technologies and relevant technologies emerging within the geoscience community;

5. As appropriate, serve as a forum for the development of specification profiles and application schemas for geoscience purposes;

6. Engage the interest of sponsors for these activities; and

7. Help link with research activities on GeoScience interoperability topics (H2020, NSF, RDA, …).


Business Case

There is not a unique business case related to Geoscience data exchange. Geoscience data are ubiquitous in the decision making process and encompass many items:

·       City planning level (ex: planning a new subway line in Paris),

·       Understanding the ‘Solid Earth’: seismic activity, tectonic plates movement, …

·       Mineral resources deposits analysis,

·       Geothermal resources exploitation,

·       Oil and gas exploration,

·       Evaluating risk of caves or old mines tunnels collapse in a populated area,

·       GroundWater/SurfaceWater interaction for flood risk analysis,

·       GroundWater/Soil/SurfaceWater interaction for drought preventions,


The above mentioned examples involve actors from various profiles: researchers, national public authority collecting and delivering data, ministries and planning authorities SMEs, and the private sector.

Such a variety of use cases and actors increases the complexity of data exchange. The identified actors spend too much time searching, finding, understanding data they need for their daily activities. Moreover, in some of those the consequences of an error made by faulty data (or understanding of it) could be critical.

OGC interoperability standards and guidance are thus of utmost importance here. In some cases, in-depth OGC work (ex: 3D Interoperability Experiment) will be required to solve the barriers encountered.


Organizational Approach and Scope of Work

Geoscience Domain WG Business Goals

The primary goals for the Domain Working Group are to:

·       Foster technical solutions which support interoperable concepts, data definitions, formats and services for publishing, search, and exchange of geoscience information;

·       Ensure thematic/semantic coherence within the Geoscience domains and the Geoscience related ones: Geology, Hydrogeology, MineralResource, Surface Hydrology, Soil …;

·       Define proper interfaces with City and Infrastructure related domain;

·       Support proper exchange with Risk monitoring, prevention and management activities;

·       Focus industry and research organizations attention on the value added of interoperable approaches;

·       Identify and work with a select set of partners in this arena, and initiate demonstration projects to develop and publicize best practices in this area; and

·       Establish a workable approach to managing standards for geoscience spatial features, their temporal aspects, related metadata, and other business information.


GeoScience Domain Working Group: Mission and Role

Membership of the Geoscience DWG is open to OGC members, and members of organizations affiliated with or working on projects for the IUGS-CGI.

The Geoscience DWG will have up to three co-chairs, who will coordinate the agenda for OGC meetings. Up to two co-chairs will be selected by majority vote by the WG members, and the other shall be nominated by the CGI-UIGS.

As development projects emerge, the specification editor(s) will be selected from the WG members.

The Earth System Science DWG is the forum for coordinating activities and documents produced by domain specific earth science DWGs, including geosciences.


Activities planned for the Geoscience Domain Working Group

The scope of work for the Geoscience DWG is defined by the Key Activities it plans, as described in Section 4.2, above.

The highest priorities outset are to develop tools for communication, including a web site and mailing list, and to identify partners, including other OGC working groups, with which to engage in addressing domain data modeling and web service challenges.

These activities will build on the ad hoc meeting held during June '16 Technical and Planning Committee Meeting - Dublin, Ireland targeting at Borehole and 3D/4D Geoscientific information exchange (see




OGC References

OGC Geoscience Markup Language 4.1 (GeoSciML). OGC 16-008. GeoSciML Modelling Team. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.

OGC WaterML 2: Part 4 – GroundWaterML 2 (GWML2). OGC 16-032r1. Boyan Brodaric. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.

OGC®  WaterML 2 – Part 3:  Surface Hydrology Features (HY_Features) Conceptual Model. OGC 4-111r4. David Blodgett, Irina Dornblut, Josh Lieberman, Rob Atkinson

OGC Soil Data Interoperability Experiment. OGC 16-088r1. Alistair Ritchie. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.

Observations and Measurements -  XML Implementation. (OGC 10-025r1).  Simon Cox. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.

OGC Coverage Implementation Schema (OGC 09-146r2), Peter Baumann. Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium Inc.

OGC  Implementation  Specification:  Sensor  Model  Language  (SensorML)  SensorML  Encoding Standard,  version  1.0  Schema  -  Corrigendum  1.  SensorML  1.0.1  (OGC  07-122r2).Mike  Botts  and Alexandre Robin (2007). Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium.

OGC Implementation Standard: Sensor Observation Service (SOS) 2.0  (OGC 12-006).  Arne  Bröring, Christoph Stasch and Johannes Echterhoff (2012).Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium.

OGC Implementation Standard: WaterML 2.0: Part 1 -  Timeseries (OGC 10-126r4).  Peter Taylor (2012). Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium.

OGC Sensor Observation Service 2.0 Hydrology Profile (OGC 14-004r1).  Volker Andres, Simon Jirka, Michael Utech (2014). Wayland, MA, USA, Open Geospatial Consortium.

Non-OGC references       

Energistics® ResqML V 2.0.1

Geo3DML : a public 3D geological model data exchange format, China Geological Survey.

IUGS-CGI EarthResourceML 2.0. EarthResourceML Working Group.

INSPIRE D2.8.II.4  Data Specification on Geology – Technical Guidelines

INSPIRE D2.8.III.21  Data Specification on Mineral Resources – Technical Guidelines

INSPIRE D2.8.III.7  Data Specification on Environmental Monitoring Facilities – Technical Guidelines

INSPIRE D2.9  Guidelines for the use of Observations & Measurements and Sensor Web Enablement-related standards in INSPIRE

INSPIRE Technical Guidance for implementing download services using the OGC Sensor Observation Service and ISO 19143 Filter Encoding

INSPIRE Technical Guidance for the implementation of INSPIRE Download Services using WCS