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Borehole data model

As a result of greater and more diverse utilization of the subsurface, administrative and public circles are increasingly focusing on our knowledge about the subsurface. Borehole data from drilling operations are one of the main sources of the relevant information. Therefore the Swiss Geological Survey, in collaboration with representatives from the federal government, cantons, private sector and universities, developed the “borehole data model" as the first recommendation for structuring basic digital borehole data.

Drilling rig in operation, drilling core in wooden boxes, UML class diagram of the borehole data model
Drilling rig in operation and fresh drill cores in the foreground (left), drilling core in wooden boxes (center), UML class diagram of the borehole data model.
© S. Brodhag

What is a borehole data model?

A data model of borehole data defines the digital data from the borehole according to federal recommendations for geodata models. The data are structured by themes, classes and attributes in tables of a so-called object catalog and are listed in hierarchical order. A data model in graphical form can be modelled e.g. in a UML class diagram.

How is the borehole data model structured?

The structure of the borehole data model comprises an inner core, an extended core and several modules:

  • The inner core describes the most basic properties that define a borehole. If properties such as depth or coordinates are not specified, re-utilization of the borehole data would make no sense.
  • The extended core complements the inner core with some important and basic attributes, such as drilling method, purpose of drilling and whether groundwater has been reached.
  • The inner and extended cores are complemented with modules, which give detailed information on topics associated with a borehole. Examples are geological profiles, borehole development and instrumentation, results of borehole measurements as well as geotechnical, hydrogeological, geophysical and geothermal parameters.

Why is a common data model of borehole data important?

  • A data model facilitates the exchange of borehole data and makes the search for them more efficient because similar data are structured in the same way. Thereby the focus is on the exchange and the use of the data.
  • A data model structures and harmonizes data. It sets the level of detail of the data content and demands precise definitions, which thereby set the data’s standard of quality. It also shows the relationships and dependencies among the data.
  • Through the structuring, harmonization and quality standards, it forms a "common language", which allows all stakeholders to understand, process and interpret the data faster and more efficiently.
  • Structuring of the data also has an impact on the entire "life cycle" of the data collection: from acquisition and storage, to exchange/distribution and finally to utilization and interpretation/re-utilization. A differentiated transfer of borehole data through access restrictions at different levels is also possible.
  • Finally, the standardized structuring as characters or strings provides the data with a sustained interpretability. Technically they cannot become obsolete and they need no constant updating.

What's next?

Up to now the inner core and the extended core of the present borehole data model have been developed. With this the borehole data model is still far from completion. More topics associated with borehole data are currently under development and will be added as modules to the borehole data model. Examples are document information (report, author, date, etc.), borehole development and instrumentation, geological profiles, hydrology, geothermal and geotechnical data, borehole measurements and their results, quality of the acquired data, and 3D path of the hole and drilling process.