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Geoinformatics-Based Data Integration for Study of the Pliocene Fossil-Bearing Strata of the Hadar Basin (Afar, Ethiopia)

Hadar

We propose to solve the challenge of integrating the large amount of data from Hadar, Ethiopia by building a "cyberinfrastructure" of computer hardware; digital, well documented and geo- and temporally referenced data from the greater Hadar depositional basin; and mapping, visualization, and community serving software. 

Understanding the relative roles of internal and external ecological, climatological, and tectonic forcings in the evolution of Australopithecus afarensis at Hadar, Ethiopia, requires integration of a wide range of disparate, variably formatted, spatially and temporally indexed data that has been collected over the last three decades. We propose to solve this compelling paleoanthropological and geological research challenge by building a "cyberinfrastructure" of computer hardware; digital, well documented and geo- and temporally referenced data from the greater Hadar depositional basin; and mapping, visualization, and community serving software. The data vary from a well developed, but not digitally georeferenced, faunal database for Hadar to geologic and volcanological data, geophysical characterizations, and base geography.

Conducting hypothesis testing and analyses using existing data in their current state is a Herculean task. This project will streamline and modernize the collection, analysis, and presentation of the Hadar data using relational database sets within an ArcGIS-based visual framework. This investment will also enhance education at ASU and in Ethiopia as well as be used as a tool for future conservation of the Hadar site.

We will convene a workshop on the Geology and Paleoanthropology of the Hadar Basin towards the end of the project period. Bringing together the ASU School of Human Evolution and Social Change and the School of Earth and Space Exploration, we can compete for external funding in the areas of paleoanthropological research, outreach and education; geological research, and geoinformatics-based integrations of analogous data systems. Our chances are improved directly by the enhanced capabilities from this cyberinfrastructure and indirectly from our deepened collaboration and higher national and international profile.

Funding Source: 
Institute of Human Origins

Partnerships:

  • Institute of Human Origins
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Ethiopian Authority for Research and Conservation of Cultural Heritage
Christopher Campisano, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change/Institute of Human Origins, Co-Principal Investigator
Ramon Arrowsmith , Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration, Co-Principal Investigator
William Kimbel, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change/Institute of Human Origins, Co-Principal Investigator
Kaye Reed, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change/Institute of Human Origins, Co-Principal Investigator
Erin Dimaggio, Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration, Research Assistant
Ben Schoville, Arizona State University School of Human Evolution and Social Change/Institute of Human Origins, Research Assistant