During periods of volcanic unrest, the ability to forecast near future activity has been a primary concern for human populations living near volcanoes. Our ability to forecast future activity and mitigate hazards is based on knowledge of previous activity at the volcano exhibiting unrest and knowledge of previous activity at similar volcanoes. A small set of experts with past experience are often involved in forecasting. We need to both preserve the knowledge the experts use and continue to investigate volcanic data to make better forecasts. Advances in instrumentation, networking, and data storage technologies have greatly increased our ability to collect volcanic data and share observations with our colleagues. The wealth of data creates numerous opportunities for gaining a better understanding of magmatic conditions and processes, if the data can be easily accessed for comparison. To allow for comparison of volcanic unrest data, we are creating a central database called WOVOdat. WOVOdat will contain a subset of time-series and geo-referenced data from each WOVO observatory in common and easily accessible formats.
WOVOdat is being created for volcano experts in charge of forecasting volcanic activity, scientists investigating volcanic processes, and the public. The types of queries each of these groups might ask range from, 'What volcanoes were active in November of 2002?' and 'What are the relationships between tectonic earthquakes and volcanic processes?' to complex analyses of volcanic unrest to determine what future activity might occur.
A new structure for storing and accessing our data was needed to examine processes across a wide range of volcanologic conditions. WOVOdat provides this new structure using relationships to connect the data parameters such that searches can be created for analogs of unrest. The subset of data that will fill WOVOdat will continue to be collected by the observatories, who will remain the primary archives of raw and detailed data on individual episodes of unrest. MySQL, an Open Source database, was chosen as the WOVOdat database for its integration with common web languages.
The question of where the data will be stored and how the disparate data sets will be integrated will not be discussed in detail here. The focus of this document is to explain the data types, formats, and table organization chosen for WOVOdat 1.0. It was written for database administrators, data loaders, query writers, and anyone who monitors volcanoes. We begin with an overview of several challenges faced and solutions used in creating the WOVOdat schema. Specifics are then given for the parameters and table organization. After each table organization section, basic create table statements are included for viewing the database field formats.
In the next stage of the project, scripts will be needed for data conversion, entry, and cleansing. Views will also need to be created once the data have been loaded and the basic queries are better known. Many questions and opportunities remain. We look forward to the growth and continual improvement in efficiency of the system. We hope WOVOdat will improve our understanding of magmatic systems and help mitigate future volcanic hazards.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
WOVOdat Design Document: The Schema, Table Descriptions, and Create Table Statements for the Database of Worldwide Volcanic Unrest (WOVOdat Version 1.0)