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UMaine Researcher Developing Database of Environmental Reactions

ORONO, Maine – University of Maine geochemist Amanda Olsen is part of a national research team that is starting a database to help scientists understand the speed at which environmental reactions take place.

Olsen is partnering on EarthKin – the name of the database, which alludes to reaction kinetics, the study of the rates at which chemical processes occur – with researchers from Saint Francis, Penn State and Columbia universities. The project is being funded by a $103,137 National Science Foundation grant, of which UMaine received $66,145.

The researchers will compile EarthKin will be a one-stop database that will allow access to researchers working on a range of projects, from the removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and permanently storing it in the ground to cleaning up contaminated environmental sites.

When completed, EarthKin will be available to scientists free via the Internet at www.earthchem.org, an NSF-supported website and community-driven effort to facilitate the preservation, discovery, access and visualization of the widest and richest geochemical datasets. The web site will not only include existing data, but researchers will be encouraged to upload new results into the database.

EarthKin will be one of the first attempts to include experimental data in a web-based data management platform. In order to accomplish this, the researchers will build news tools and data structures that will allow the existing EarthChem platform to incorporation a new type of data.

The concept of EarthKin was made possible by recent advances in geoinformatics – the field of developing technological and computational tools to facilitate information dissemination in the geosciences – that have significantly increased access that researchers have to geological information. Recent endeavors include the online publishing of large data sets to make the data available to a larger community.

Contact: Amanda Olsen, (207) 581-2194 or amanda.a.olsen@maine.edu; Jessica Bloch, (207) 581-3777 or jessica.bloch@umit.maine.edu

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