Global Network of National Geoparks

A new data base for fossil plant classification in museums application for the petrified forest of l

Published :March 4, 2008
N. zouros, I. valiakos, M. pantelelis & O. labaki
Department of Geography, University of the Aegean, GR-81100, Greece Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest, Lesvos, GR-81112, Greece

Keywords: Fossil plant, database, museum, Lesvos, Greece

Lesvos lsland (North Aegean area, Greece) exposes large accumulations of fossilized tree trunks comprising the Petrified Forest of Lesvos, declared as a protected natural monument. Its formation is directly related to the intense volcanic activity in North Eastern Aegean area during late Oligocene-middle Miocene. Fossilized trees are present on the western part of Lesvos lsland as well as along the coast in the area of Sigri, on the beach and under the sea surface. Systematic excavations and scientific research has been carried out by the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest during 1997 in main fossil sites of the Lesvos Petrified Forest in order to identify the genus and the species of the fossils. Palaeobotanic studies showed that most of the fossilized trees belong to angiosperms and gymnosperms.

The abundance of standing and lying petrified tree trunks and the quantity of the fossil plants findings, lead to the decision of creating a database for fossil plants in order to improve the management of the fossil collections of the Natural History Museum of the Lesvos Petrified Forest. The database was built in order to create a complete record of the museum's exhibits and collections for their proper management, storage and conservation.

The database was built taking into account those features that are characteristic for describing each one of the museum's exhibits and also the conservation applied to them. The main elements of the database are: basic elements of identification, classification, description, composition, location it was found, age, creation procedure, location it is stored, by whom it was found, under what conditions it was found, cross-correlation with other exhibits, correlation with the palaeoenvironment, connection with relevant photo, according to the specifications, directives and indeications of "Object-ID", "International guidelines for museum object information " and "Metadata Standards for Museum Cataloguing".

The database contains also metadata that serve the long-term maintenance of the digital material. For the definition of metadata of maintenance of digital material the museum took under consideration of the Digital Preservation Coalition OCLC/RLG.
As a result of this recording, a database was created, to be used not only by the museum's personnel but also by scientists who would like to study the museum's collections and make correlations to other collections and fossils around the world. It can also be used as a base for the development of several multimedia creations and CD-ROMs.