View the GeoWS - Geoscience Web Services Forum

The GeoWS approach is to enable search, discovery, and access by similarly constructed URLs containing a traditional directory structure and query parameters in the URL. Each GeoWS partner has a base URL from which their services can be accessed.  For instance, the base for GeoWS compliant services at IRIS is Specific services and versions are available under the base URL such as /event/1 for the IRIS event service version 1.  This can be followed by a series of parameters that provide constraints for the query.  By default, information is returned as XML but to aid usability GeoWS services also supports easily understood, simple text content. For example, the following URL represents a query resulting in a text listing of all earthquakes greater than magnitude 6.0 occurring in the last two months of 2014 using the IRIS event service:

One can paste the above URL into a browser and get a listing of earthquakes matching the constraints provided.  Other GeoWS partners have similar capabilities.  Such services are designed for easy use in Perl, Java, curl, wget and many other data collection and processing environments.

Science Challenges

We have all heard that researchers spend 80 to 90% of their time and effort finding and accessing needed data for their specific research problem and only 10% actually doing science.  The fundamental goal of the GeoWS Building Block is to provide more uniform ways to discover, access, and use data from various earth science data centers.  The GeoWS strategy is to promote the use of similar web services as methods of interacting with domain data centers.  While the standardization of the space-time query for discovery is a high priority, the GeoWS approach is flexible enough for the general approach to be implemented at all of the GeoWS data centers on a variety of domain-specific data sets. Very deliberately, the GeoWS primary partners include centers from solid earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences, which represent the largest sections of the GEO Directorate at NSF, along with secondary partners from other geoscience-related disciplines.

Science Drivers

GeoWS data partners were selected primarily to address a user scenario within geodynamics, augmented slightly to show that the concept could be extended to other disciplines supported by the NSF GEO Directorate.  To further demonstrate flexibility of the approach we also have partners supported by the NSF Biological Directorate.  Additionally, two partners of GeoWS are either funded by other federal agencies (NGDC) or non-US sources (WOVODAT).  GeoWS engages the community through a Science Advisory Committee that will, among other things, act as testers of the GeoWS capabilities when fully deployed.

Benefits to Scientists

GeoWS will benefit a wide range of scientists by reducing the burden currently required to discover, access and use data across multiple scientific domains.  While the services can be accessed directly at the providers’ service locations, GeoWS is also working closely with two other Building Block proposals: the CINERGI Building Block ( that serves as an EarthCube wide registry of services as well as the BCube ( building block that offers a brokering capability and a single portal through which the GeoWS data assets can be accessed.

The GeoWS partners include six data centers funded by the NSF GEO Directorate including the GPlates effort at Caltech, the IEDA: Marine Geoscience Data System at Columbia University, the IRIS Seismological Data Center, the CUAHSI effort at San Diego Super Computer, the Geodetic Data Center at UNAVCO, and the Atmospheric Sciences data facility at Unidata.   Additionally, GeoWS is directly implementing web service concepts at 8 other locations including 1) NEON (ecological), 2) NGDC (various geophysical data sets), 3) Ocean Observatory Initiative (OOI) (oceanographic data), 4) WOVOdat (volcanological data), 5) GGP (superconducting gravimeter data), 6) InterMagnet (magnetic observatory data), 7) UTEP (gravity and magnetic collections), and 8) U. of Kansas (structural geology data).  GeoWS is also supporting the developer of RAMADDA ( ) to incorporate GeoWS web services into the RAMADDA system where, in theory, any data collection can be managed.

Summary of Web Services

GeoWS web services are available or under development by GeoWS PI institutions as IRIS, Lamont-IEDA, Unidata, UNAVCO, SDSC-CUAHSI, and Caltech.  Resources available include seismic, geochemical, atmospheric, geodetic, hydrologic and geodynamic observations and models. Click here for a summary of services currently under development