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The Earth Science World ImageBank

submitted by

Abigail Howe American Geological Institute
Author Profile

The Earth Science World ImageBank (ESWIB) is a free resource under development by AGI in which students and teachers can find a variety of geoscience photographs for use in presentations, lectures, slide shows, labs, posters and other various uses. Our hope is that by using the photos in ESWIB, students will gain a greater understanding for various geological principles and processes. This resource is very comprehensive and the images are cataloged with great detail, making it easy to find images of specific locations or of certain features.
GSA Poster (Acrobat (PDF) 7.8MB Sep3 03)

Learning Goals


Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Drawing Conclusions from Data
Recognizing Geologic Features and Processes
Using Visual Examples to Demonstrate Geologic Concepts

Other Skills:

Data Collection
Research Skills
Search Skills


Instructional Level:

All grade levels appropriate for this resource

Skills Needed:

None in particular, possibly knowledge of computers/searching.

Role of Activity in a Course:

We imagine it might be used in a variety of ways: in stand-alone exercises, part of a sequence of exercises, and as a research and presentation tool.

Data, Tools and Logistics

Required Tools:

Internet connection (preferable IE or Mozilla browsers). Very easy to use.

Logistical Challenges:

Sometimes the ImageBank might be down, working slowly, or images may not be coming through. We have an e-mail address setup for support should something like this occur and instructors need help or have questions.


Evaluation Goals:

AGI would like to know how the ImageBank is being used by educators, the ease of use, how they rate the scope and descriptions of the images, and what ways we might improve the ImageBank. We have a feedback page set up on the website for users to fill out that covers these questions and allows for user comments.

Evaluation Techniques:


Although there are many geoscience image sites available on the World Wide Web, there is no universal, all-inclusive digital archive where the general public can gather images related to all aspects of the earth sciences. To fill this need, the American Geological Institute (AGI) is developing the largest image database available with funding provided by the AGI Foundation: the Earth Science World ImageBank (ESWIB).

The database is searchable by browsing under main subject categories, selecting specific search criteria, or typing in a keyword. Once images are found, additional searches can be made by simply clicking on hyperlinked keywords and locations.

The goal of ESWIB is to provide a variety of users with free access to high-quality geoscience images and technical art gathered from photographers, scientists, and government organizations. Each image is cataloged by main subject category, location, author, image rights, and includes a detailed description. Additionally, each image is precisely indexed using a series of keywords from AGI's Georef Thesaurus. Students, teachers, scientists, and the general public can download these images for their own use. Example uses include slide-show presentations, papers, lectures, labs, posters, and any other educational or outreach purposes. All non-commercial uses are allowed for images in ESWIB, including non-profit publications with distributions less than 2,000 copies.

The ESWIB website provides a technical support page for users who are having difficulties, a feedback section to help with site and image improvements, and a detailed description of image uses and copyright details. ESWIB is also connected to the Earth Science World homepage - an educational resource that has been developed by AGI and of which ESWIB is a part.

Images are scanned at a very high resolution (20 x 30 inches, RGB, 8-bit, 72 dpi, 3000 pixels wide/high) and depending on the author's rights, AGI plans to make high-resolution copies (digital or print) available for non-commercial and commercial purposes. Non-commercial users can obtain high-resolution poster prints or digital copies for a nominal fee. Commercial users of the ImageBank will be pleased to learn that fees for use of ESWIB's geoscience images are far less than what most image providers charge. We anticipate fees no greater than 0 to 0 per image per use - half of which goes directly to the photographer, with the remainder going to support AGI educational programs.

Work on this project began in August 2002 with the initial collecting and scanning of images. Currently, more than 1,300 images are fully indexed and searchable within ESWIB. In addition to these images that are readily available, approximately 7,000 images are awaiting indexing, and more than 10,000 images have been identified for submission into ESWIB. The ImageBank debuted in June 2003, and within four weeks had over 100,000 image views. This ImageBank is different from other photo sites available in that the scope has more breadth and depth than other image resources, and the images are cataloged with a very high grade of detail and precision, which makes finding needed images fast and easy. The image services offered by ESWIB are also unique, such as low-cost commercial options and high quality image printouts. AGI is constantly soliciting images in an attempt to expand the database. Users can also contribute images of their own to the database by following instructions on the ESWIB website.

In the future, AGI plans on adding a 'photo of the day' section, connecting the ImageBank to the upcoming online version of the Glossary of Geology, as well as continuing to develop new enhanced features for the images.

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