Mindat Diagram

World's Largest Mineral Database Made Open:

OpenMindat Project Led by Prof. Xiaogang Ma at the University of Idaho

August 11, 2023

In a groundbreaking endeavor to propel mineralogy research to new heights, Prof. Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma, a geoinformatics and data science researcher at the University of Idaho, is leading the OpenMindat project. Collaborating with Jolyon Ralph, the visionary creator of Mindat, Prof. Ma's team seeks to establish an open data service that will transform the way mineral data is accessed, shared, and utilized by the scientific community. The work received a National Science Foundation grant in 2021 , and impressive outputs have been achieved after two years’ hard work.

The OpenMindat project is driven by the principles of the open data movement, aiming to provide free and unrestricted access to one of the most comprehensive mineral databases in the world, Mindat. this initiative has the potential to revolutionize the field of mineralogy, as researchers will be able to explore new scientific frontiers, including mineral ecology, mineral evolution, and innovative classification systems, through the wealth of datasets made available through community efforts. Prof. Xiaogang Ma's expertise in geoinformatics and data science brings a unique perspective to the project. With a deep understanding of the importance of open data and its transformative potential, he has been at the forefront of pushing for better FAIRness (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) of the data in the field of mineralogy. Through his leadership, the OpenMindat project has made significant progress on two vital activities:

1. Cleansing Data and Improving Data Quality: The OpenMindat team has dedicated efforts to cleanse and enhance the quality of the vast dataset on Mindat. By ensuring accuracy and reliability, they aim to provide researchers with a trustworthy and authoritative resource for their studies.

2. Building a Data Sharing Platform and Machine Interface: Recognizing the value of seamless data access, the project has developed a cutting-edge data sharing platform with a user-friendly machine interface. This will facilitate efficient data queries and enable both human researchers and machines to harness the data effectively.

One of the key collaborators in the OpenMindat project is Jolyon Ralph, the visionary behind Mindat. His pioneering work in creating the largest online mineral database laid the foundation for the project's vision. With Ralph's insights and expertise, the project gains invaluable guidance on maintaining the integrity of the database and ensuring a smooth transition to an open data service. Additionally, the OpenMindat project has joined forces with Dr. Anirudh Prabhu and Dr. Shaunna Morrison at the Carnegie Institution for Science, a renowned research institution. This collaboration aims to leverage data-driven methodologies to make significant discoveries in the field of mineralogy. The wealth of data available through OpenMindat, combined with the advanced analytical capabilities of Carnegie Institution for Science, holds tremendous promise for unraveling new insights into the Earth's diverse mineral compositions and occurrences.

This transformative effort has recently been documented in a paper titled "OpenMindat: Building an Open Data Service for the World's Largest Mineral Database," authored by Prof. Xiaogang Ma and other OpenMindat team members. The paper showcases the milestones achieved by the OpenMindat project in establishing an open data service fully compliant with FAIR guiding principles. The OpenMindat project marks a significant leap forward in mineralogy research. With the establishment of an open data service for Mindat, the scientific community gains access to a treasure trove of information, accelerating discoveries and advancing our understanding of the Earth's minerals.

By Dr. Xiaogang (Marshall) Ma, Associate Professor - College of Engineering
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