June 2010    Print this article

SIGEOM 2010: A New Approach

Charles Roy
Direction de l'information géologique du Québec

A new version of the SIGEOM application will be launched in June 2010. It presents substantial changes from the previous version and will cement Géologie Québec’s shift towards a database approach to producing geoscientific data, without major changes for users.

What is SIGEOM?


Overview of the short history of SIGEOM

SIGEOM was developed in the early 1990s. It was created out of a desire to present integrated geoscientific information in electronic cartographic documents with a single legend. These maps were inspired by the compilation maps of the 70s and 80s that were much appreciated by the mineral exploration industry at the time. SIGEOM also stems from a need to produce color maps; the first ones were produced in the early 2000s. In order to capitalize on digital (geomatic) technologies and incorporate various families of geoscientific data, geometric and descriptive maps were created. When combined, these geometric and descriptive maps form a digital geomatic file. Printed copies of the geometric map are similar to conventional paper maps. From that point on, SIGEOM clients could choose between conventional or digital maps.

Since the first SIGEOM map was developed in 1993, 44,000 maps have been produced.

The constantly shifting world of IT

Anyone who has witnessed the evolution of the computer from the first generations of the PC to the iPod Touch can appreciate the amount of progress that has been made. We have moved from a bulky machine with a demanding text-based interface to a handheld device that gives us access to the virtual library of humanity with the flick of a fingertip.

How did we get to this point? By continuously reviewing how we do things in terms of hardware technology (chips, memory, touch interface, etc.), software technology (services, Internet, synergy between applications), and data. Today, data is stored in multiple warehouses spread out over hundreds of thousands of servers, linked together by keys and indices, and downloaded to computers according to user needs.

SIGEOM too has undergone some major transformations over the years, migrating successively from a DOS (disk operating system) platform to a Windows platform, and from multiple databases distributed to a single centralized database to an Internet-based data access interface… Recently it was time to conduct a complete overhaul of our processes, technology, and data architecture.

SIGEOM 2010: a database approach

With SIGEOM 2010, maps become a byproduct of data. Now the data stored can be presented as a map as needed. One of the advantages of this new approach is the ability to store data on a fault, for example, as a single geological object without having to repeat it for each map sheet (or standard section of the land). For example, the Cadillac Fault will be a single object in the database that we can limit to one sheet for cartographic representation purposes.

SIGEOM’s new architecture no longer includes maps; it contains data that we can use according to our needs. Does this mean we’ll no longer be making land maps, color maps, or small-scale maps? Of course not! All the processes are in place to make maps and, technically speaking, it will be even easier than ever to produce them. Like always, SIGEOM will continue to produce maps both for internal and external use. The new approach and architecture will also be transparent for users. In the coming years it will even give us continuous coverage of Québec’s geology. Geological areas will no longer be restricted to the confines of paper maps, and it will be easier to produce maps of various scales.

By introducing these changes to SIGEOM, the door is open for other modifications that will affect users, including simpler geoscientific research and data consultation. Integration of the technologies used in mass applications such as Google, Google Earth, wikis, and Wikipedia are also in the works. Plus, SIGEOM is getting ready to developing an application to broadcast geoscientific data via iPod in the near future. Stay tuned.

The figure below shows the regional faults that straddle the Superior Province and the Grenville Front in the Chibougamau area.


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