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The nature of biostratigraphic data presents major problems that are not considered by most computerized database-management systems. These problems include the variety of ways that paleontologists record data, the reluctance of many paleontologists to use the computer, the need to change the database to reflect the current state of biostratigraphy, and the need to separate the paleontologic information from interpretive and nonpaleontologic information. With regard to the first problem, the level of paleontologic measurement (e.g., presence-absence, qualitative assessments of abundance, or counts) should be retained for each sample; yet the system should be designed so that data with varying levels of measurement can be reduced to their lowest form allowing comparisons a ong samples with different levels of measurement. For example, in a series of wells to be correlated, a combination of presence-absence information, qualitative assessments, and counts of fossils may be present. In this example, one wants the opportunity to automatically reduce all data to presence-absence form and correlate the wells.
The second problem presented to the management of biostratigraphic data is the reluctance of paleontologists to utilize the computer. To minimize this problem, the database-management software must be designed to run as efficiently and simply as possible so each user feels that the system was designed specifically for him. In addition, the design of the system should be flexible enough so that the user can request minor modifications in the system to meet his own needs.
With regard to the final problem, paleontologic data must be separated from both interpretative (e.g., zonal and age assignments) and nonpaleontologic (e.g., formational assignments) information. It is highly desirable to assign quality factors to the data, so that high-quality data is distinguishable from data produced in a quick-and-dirty fashion.
Many of these problems have been resolved using an efficient, relational database-management system designed for a variety of paleontologic and related data linked with a series of biostratigraphic applications programs. The internal structure of the database as well as the applications programs are hidden from the user, who only sees a series of panels that allow easy, efficient execution of the entire package. This package expedites report writing, analysis of data from a single well, regional synthesis of data from many wells and outcrops, and integration of biostratigraphic data with other types of geologic information.
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