[February 28, 2001] Simon Cox reported that the Exploration and Mining Markup Language (XMML) is under development as an XML specification governing online data transfer for the exploration and mining industry. XMML is being designed as an application of the Geography Markup Language (GML); GML is an XML format for geospatial data based on the ISO/TC 211 feature model, and provides components, such as geometry, for re-use in specific domains. Interoperability with GML will allow XMML "to leverage developments in GIS and will provide maximum compatibility with generic software (e.g., GIS, CAD, DBMS, spreadsheet, web-browser). Thus XMML will be compatible with emerging geospatial data standards. It will support the efficient transfer of data between current software packages, between users at different sites, and of extracts of data from servers to clients in a variety of other scenarios, which requires shared protocols. XMML will be capable of describing rich 3-D geology, including ore-bodies, boreholes, geophysics and samples." Development plans call for the completion of XML schemas and several stylesheets by the end of 2001.
The goal of the project is "to develop an ISO compliant geology model, including: (1) ISO compliant geology/mining feature catalogue; (2) ISO compliant geology/mining community metadata profile; (3) XML encodings: the eXploration and Mining Markup Language XMML; (4) demonstration software and API for import/export to legacy applications; (5) geology model viewers (in conjunction with project sponsors)."
Usage scenarios: "Data encoded in XML is encapsulated as a text-format message that can be saved and exchanged as a disk-file, or transferred using standard web technology. Geoscience data encoded in XMML will easily be exchanged between software applications on the desktop, between colleagues in different offices, and between explorers, contractors, data-managers and regulators on a transactional basis. Because it is a self-describing clear-text format, XMML is also suitable for archiving. Here are some scenarios. (1) Users will be able to combine the strengths of different software packages without having to wrestle with reformatting and attendant information loss. (2) Software developers will have a framework in which they can focus on the distinctive functionality of their packages, while maintaining interoperability with complementary applications through data interchange conforming to a robust common model. (3) Data collectors and custodians will have a single representation to provide to clients. (4) Value-adding service providers and laboratories can receive inputs from the client in machine-readable format, and provide outputs in the same form. (5) Regulators can receive reports in XMML, and load it directly into a common database."
Background: "Web-based information standards and geospatial data are maturing to a stage where they can support sophisticated and transparent exchange of technical information. By attending to a small number of connectors among generic technologies the exploration industry can take advantage of widely available tools in order to achieve a situation where (a) exploration datasets will be organised according to well-understood common models, in file formats compatible with e-business protocols, leading to a situation where the corporate database extends transparently into multiclient and open file data on the World Wide Web (b) data is available for immediate import into and transfer between a variety of applications software, allowing developers to concentrate on their distinctive functionality, and users to mix-and-match this according to their processing needs." [from the proposal]
An approach to encoding Coverages in GML. "A coverage is a set of homogeneous observations made on a partition or sampling of a spatio-temporal region. The observations are homogeneous in the sense that values of the same parameter(s) are recorded for each sample. Coverages are most commonly associated with imagery, where the spatial sampling is on a regular grid. Grids in one, two, and three spatial dimensions are common for various applications. Time-series are coverages in which one dimension is time. Most datasets used in statistical analysis are coverages. Coverages are a very important type of geospatial data..."
Observations following the GML pattern. "A standard method has been established for associating properties with features in GML. Using the label 'Observation' to substitute for an arbitrary property value, [the method specifies] the canonical form by which an Observation (including a Geometry) is associated with a Feature..."
[February 27, 2001] "XMML: Standards-Compliant Transport Of Geoscientific Data Online In The Exploration And Mining Industry." By CSIRO Exploration and Mining (Dr Simon Cox, PO Box 437, Nedlands WA 6009) and Fractal Graphics p/l (Dr Nick Archibald). 25 pages. 2000-02-22. "We propose to develop the eXploration and Mining Markup Language XMML, a web-compatible XML based exploration and mining data transfer format. This will use a sophisticated geology domain model built on the ISO geographic standards, OpenGIS Consortium implementations, and World Wide Web Consortium encoding recommendations. Because the geology model is built merely as a 'schema' on top of a generic geospatial infrastructure, it will be compatible with both generic (e.g., GIS, CAD, DBMS, spreadsheet, web-browser) and specialised (geology modelling, mechanics and fluid-flow, resource estimation, mine-planning etc) software for analysis, modelling, visualisation and transfer. The system will be capable of describing rich 3D geology, including boreholes, geophysics and analytical data, so that data can easily be exchanged between software applications, between offices, and between explorers, contractors, data-managers and regulators on a transactional basis. The self-describing plain-text form of XML documents also makes them ideal for archival purposes, overcoming the problem of loss of data because of software incompatibilities. [cache]
[November 30, 2000] "Can We Use International Geospatial Standards as The Foundations of an XML Language For Geology?" By Simon Cox. Presented to the Geoscience Information Group of the Geological Society of London, London UK, 2000-11-29. "The expressive capabilities and widespread support for XML make it a good basis for initiatives concerning information representation and transfer in the earth sciences. Community acceptance of a standardised XML based language for geology would offer benefits in a variety of areas: in particular in web-based data transfer and the simplification of import/export procedures for specialised applications software. However, XML is a meta-language that only provides components for the construction of a language useful for data. The actual tag-set and structures must be defined for each particular application, such as geology. Various formal methods are available to control XML document content, starting with the XML 1.0 standard DTD for text documents, and now including several other schema languages designed for text and structured data. But a data schema is merely the representation of a data model for the chosen syntax or storage method. So the task of developing a schema or tag-set for a particular purpose will ideally focus on the design of the application data-model, followed by a mechanical conversion to the serialization definition. To develop a model for geology data we start by examining existing models. These come from two areas: geology data models developed for existing and specialised systems, and models that underpin more generic systems for the management and manipulation of geospatial information. Examples of geology specific models include:  observational data from the exploration sector, such as drill-hole and assay data, various geophysics formats (seismic, potential field, active EM, etc.)  models based on a higher level of inference, such as block-models and grade-control data from the mining sector  highly interpretative models such as maps, which rely on additional components like stratigraphic columns. In the geospatial area, an exercise to develop an abstract data-model to underpin the next generation of applications has taken place through ISO and the OpenGIS Consortium. The major achievement is the establishment of an object-oriented '"feature' model of geospatial entities, largely replacing the map-oriented 'coverage' approach. If we develop our geology specific models to conform to the feature model, we can build on the generic work (e.g., in geometry), and also expect to maximize our potential use of generic DBMS, GIS, CAD and graphics software."
"OpenGIS standards and XML for geosciences." By Simon Cox. Presented to Steering Committee of North American Data Model (for geologic maps), Reno NV, 2000-11-15.