The IGCP 509 database system: design and application of a tool to capture and illustrate litho- and chrono-stratigraphic information for Palaeoproterozoic tectonic domains, large igneous provinces and ore deposits; with examples from southern Africa
Datasets usually provide raw data for analysis. This raw data often comes in spreadsheet form, but can be any collection of data, on which analysis can be performed.
The IGCP 509 project is collating global information for the Palaeoproterozoic era through the activities of numerous international collaborators. A database system (StratDB) and web interface has been designed to facilitate this process with links to an existing geochronology database (DateView). As a result, all information captured will remain available in a digital format for future researchers. The philosophy and design of the database and some of the outputs available from it are described. One of the principal features of the system is that it facilitates the construction of time–space correlation charts using an innovative application of GIS technology to non-geographic information, which permits users to query a variety of attribute information associated with lithostratigraphic units, metamorphic and deformation episodes associated with user-selected tectonic domains, large igneous provinces and major ore deposits. In the process, much of the manual labour normally associated with the construction of such charts in standard graphical or drafting packages is avoided. Associations between units, deformation, metamorphism, large igneous provinces and ore deposits may become more apparent once linked information is available for querying and investigation. Geochronological information from the DateView database may also be linked to entities stored in StratDB. GIS maps may be linked to the attribute information in StratDB and DateView to construct a variety of time-slice maps or palaeogeographic reconstructions with the same symbology as is used in the time–space correlation charts. This database system will facilitate the dissemination of lithostratigraphic information for many countries to a broader community and will help non-specialists to easily view information for various Palaeoproterozoic tectonic domains. The system is illustrated using a preliminary compilation of information for the Palaeoproterozoic of southern Africa. The correlation charts and time-slice maps provide insights to the geological evolution of this region which emphasize some aspects and correlations which have not previously been extensively considered; for instance, possible correlation of units in the central and western zones of the Limpopo Belt (South Africa, Zimbabwe and Botswana) with the Magondi Belt of Zimbabwe and its extension into northern Botswana.