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U.S. Geological Survey
Open-File Report 2004-1334


NADM Conceptual Model 1.0—
A Conceptual Model for Geologic Map Information

By North American Geologic Map Data Model (NADM) Steering Committee Data Model Design Team

The NADM Data Model Design Team was established in 1999 by the North American Geologic Map Data Model Steering Committee (NADMSC) with the purpose of drafting a geologic map data model for consideration as a standard for developing interoperable geologic map-centered databases by state, provincial, and federal geological surveys. The model is designed to be a technology-neutral conceptual model that can form the basis for a web-based interchange format using evolving information technology (e.g., XML, RDF, OWL), and guide implementation of geoscience databases in a common conceptual framework. The intended purpose is to allow geologic information sharing between geologic map data providers and users, independent of local information system implementation.

The model emphasizes geoscience concepts and relationships related to information presented on geologic maps. Design has been guided by an informal requirements analysis, documentation of existing databases, technology developments, and other standardization efforts in the geoscience and computer-science communities.

A key aspect of the model is the notion that representation of the conceptual framework (ontology) that underlies geologic map data must be part of the model, because this framework changes with time and understanding, and varies between information providers. The top level of the model distinguishes geologic concepts, geologic representation concepts, and metadata. The geologic representation part of the model provides a framework for representing the ontology that underlies geologic map data through a controlled vocabulary, and for establishing the relationships between this vocabulary and a geologic map visualization or portrayal. Top-level geologic classes in the model are Earth material (substance), geologic unit (parts of the Earth), geologic age, geologic structure, fossil, geologic process, geologic relation, and geologic event.
  Preliminary geologic map of the San Bernardino 30'x 60' quadrangle, California

From "Preliminary geologic map of the San Bernardino 30' × 60' quadrangle, California" by D.M. Morton, F.K. Miller, P.M. Cossette,and K.R. Bovard, USGS Open-File Report OF-03-293, 2003.


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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
For more information, contact David R. Soller (, 703-648-6907).
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