Decades of scientific measurements that once languished in desk drawers in offices around the country are now available at NCI through a concerted data rescue effort. The measurements in question are Magnetotelluric (MT): measurements of electric and magnetic fields deep within the earth’s crust, hinting at possible mineral ore deposits underground. Supported by the Australian Research Data Commons through the Geoscience Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory (GeoDEVL), NCI has started down the path of making MT data easily available to the research community.

Researchers working with MT data used to have to collect their own small dataset to do their work, or else phone a friend to get sent a copy of their data. This limits the scope of potential research, and hinders scientific verification and transparency. The valuable raw data stored in poorly archived hard drives was being wasted.

As part of the GeoDEVL, NCI has worked with the University of Adelaide to store their MT data within NCI’s high-performance data collections. Safely catalogued with searchable metadata and a persistent identifier for each dataset, that data can now be used by researchers around the country much more easily. Importantly, researchers can now bring disparate datasets together to leverage the increased coverage for large-scale studies that would have been practically impossible before this.

Bringing research data into repositories like NCI’s also enables deeper use cases. Sitting alongside a powerful supercomputer, this data now benefits from analysis and processing conducted with highly optimised software running on NCI’s high-performance hardware (see Case Study on page XX). When research data is made Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable, it opens up new research possibilities and avenues of investigation. It also makes it possible to extract new information from old data, reanalysing it with modern technologies to learn as much as possible.

NCI’s data rescue efforts are aiming to make previously hard-to-find or disconnected datasets useable once again. By leveraging our data collections management expertise and resources, we can help bring an old scientific resource back to the research community.

This research highlight was originally published in the 2018-2019 NCI Annual Report.