Interactive, Web-based Visualizations for Hierarchical Information and Knowledge in Geosciences: An Implementation on the Dana Classification and its Applications

Zhong, H.
Prabhu, Anirudh
Huang, F.
Eleish, Ahmed
Chastain, Katie
Thomson, Brenda
Narkar, S.
Fontaine, Kathy
Hummer, D. R.
Morrison, S.M.
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Zhong H, Prabhu A, Huang F, Eleish A, Chastain K, Thomson BL, Narkar S, Fontaine KS, Hummer DR, Morrison SM, Downs RT. Interactive, Web-based Visualizations for Hierarchical Information and Knowledge in Geosciences: An Implementation on the Dana Classification and its Applications. InAGU Fall Meeting 2019 Dec 10. AGU.
The Dana System of Mineralogy, developed by James Dwight Dana in the mid-19th century, classifies minerals by anionic composition and crystal structure. In testament to the success of its organizational philosophy, for more than a century the US National Museum and most other major mineral collections arrange specimens according to the Dana system. Recent versions of the Dana classification assign a four-part number to a mineral species: First it is the class based on important compositional groups; secondly it is the type which gives the ratio of cations to anions in the mineral; and finally, the last two numbers group minerals by structural similarity with a given type or class. We implemented a collection of open-access, web-based, interactive visualizations of the Dana system, each one of them renders 5400+ IMA-approved mineral species in a single diagram. The data infrastructure of our visualizations is a semantic representation of the Dana system, an ontology that contains all 78 categories of mineral compositions and is used to match mineral attributes from other data sources, such as and The Dana hierarchy is visualized in several ways, such as Sunburst diagram and radial tree, where visual elements are first rendered to reveal its hierarchical relationships, and then colored, sized and labeled by their mineral attributes, revealing visual patterns within the mineral kingdom. The visualizations are implemented in an interactive manner so that they can be freely expanded, collapsed, and toggled by using menu options for displaying different combinations of parameters such as physical properties, chemical compositions, and ages of first appearance in the geologic record, allowing users to efficiently manipulate the visualization in a customizable fashion for a wide variety of different purposes and to reach desired insights. Our Dana visualizations are open-access to the community and allow for extension to other specific versions, e.g. containing only Carbon minerals. We investigate relevant visualization techniques of hierarchies with the implementation of Dana visualizations, and present how exploring orthogonal directions enriches additional hierarchical information and knowledge in mineralogy, and speculate on generalizations to other geoscience domains.