Sample Depth Precision

Possibly the most frequently asked question we are asked is “why do my samples show with different numbers of decimal places?”, or  “where are the decimal places on my cuttings?”. StrataBugs charts have always displayed the different sample types with precision which reflects the nature of the sampling. Cuttings samples show to the nearest whole metre (or foot) because it would be misleading to suggest the depth was any more precise than that.

Here’s the full information for all sample types:

CU cutting nearest whole metre or foot
SC sidewall core 1 decimal place
CO core 2 decimal places
OC outcrop 2 decimal places
LOG log pick 1, 2 or 3dp – configurable by super-user (Control Panel > Config > Default samples depths)

This affects the charts and wherever samples are displayed along with their type and label in the data tables. The position of samples is still determined by the depth you give them (and which, in the case of cores (and optionally cuttings) may be affected by core shifting).

These levels of precision follow an industry convention used since version 1.0 of StrataBugs. One drawback is sometimes where you have a well originally drilled in feet and now dislayed in metres, where you would like to show the cuttings depths to 2 decimal places to reflect the converted number. You can do this in the Samples panel by checking off the “Display symbols” option in the panel propeties.

Within the database itself, all sample depths are stored in metres to at least three decimal places (dependent on the database type).

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When is an analysis barren?

Analyses may be ‘prepared’ (yet to be analysed), ‘analysed’ (contains occurrences), or ‘barren‘ – indicating that they have been analysed but found to contain no taxa.

When we reviewed and tightened up all aspects of the way the biostrat data were stored in v2.0, it seemed sensible to enforce that analyses marked as barren did not contain occurrences of microfossils. Therefore the only option when clicking the barren flag was to clear all the occurrences. It’s been pointed out to us since that analyses can contain accessory minerals or perhaps caved taxa, while still technically being barren of microfossils.

The most recent test update will allow you to have your cake and eat it – you still get the option to clear the occurrence list, but you can have some analysed data while the analysis is marked as barren. This doesn’t require a change to the underlying data model, and any data files exported will reflect what you have on screen. The only caveat is that if somebody without the update imports the file, their analysis will not be barren.

barren example
The barren symbol shows in the biostrat panel’s ‘analyses’ inner panel.





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Time for a spring clean? Episode 2: Schemes

In this second post about giving your database a spring spruce-up, I’m going to outline some tips for cleaning up your list of schemes.

You are mostly going to be working in the Schemes & Interpretations module. Select Schemes > Strataigraphic schemes to bring up the Schemes window.

Go to the full post…

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Time for a spring clean? Episode 1: Taxa and Groups

Spring is in the air here in the UK and I for one have forgotten my new year’s resolutions. Blow away the cobwebs and embrace the new season feeling virtuous by spending a little time spring-cleaning your StrataBugs database. All databases need ongoing tidying up, organising and pruning. It need not be a huge job – a little dusting here and there to keep things in shape will go a long way if performed frequently. Perhaps get into the habit of performing these tasks at the end of each project.
Go to the full post…

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Genera in Groups

A useful addition to StrataBugs 2.1 is the ability to include entire genera in groups. Previously if you wanted to do this, you would have had to find all the taxa from the genus (probably via a taxon search) and add them to the group. If you or a colleague added another species to the genus, you’d have to remember to add it to the group. The new system saves you this hassle and guarantees that the group stays up-to-date.

You should be familiar with the Taxon Database’s ‘Taxa’ window – this is your working list of taxa. Let me introduce you to its sister, the ‘Genus’ window. Open by choosing from the menu Taxa > Genera.


You can populate it with genera by hitting the search icon, or by dragging onto it species from any tables or lists in StrataBugs. Drag a genus from here onto the Taxa window to populate it with the member species. You can also drag the genera directly into your taxon groups. Go to the full post…

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Charts Keyboard Shortcuts

Did we mention that the charts are interactive?! You’ll get a lot more out of them if you are familiar with these keyboard shortcuts.


  • Use your mouse wheel to move up and down…
  • … and hold down SHIFT with the mouse wheel to go left-right.


  • Hold down CTRL with the mouse wheel to zoom in and out.
  • CTRL and +/- also zoom in and out.
  • CTRL and 1 zooms to the normal scale.
  • CTRL and 0 (zero) zooms out so that the whole chart fits on your screen.


  • Hold down ALT and draw a box to zoom to that area:
  • Hold down the q key to toggle on the magnifer:

Undo and Redo

  • Use CTRL+Z to undo or CTRL+SHIFT+Z to redo.

    redoNote – these are for undoing changes you have made to data via the chart – e.g. by dragging a node on the depth/age panel, or dragging an interval boundary. They won’t undo anything you have done via a dialog, including changing the chart properties!
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General Relativity (‘Relative Inner’ vs ‘Relative Outer’ )

Expect the blog to feature many, many posts about the biostratigraphy panels. There are so many combinations of panel options that I shouldn’t think anybody is au fait with all of them – probably not even me! I want to start with something relatively (excuse the pun) simple. I’m also choosing this because it’s something that wasn’t possible before the new charts module was released.

My examples use data from our demo dataset. My template starts out as a simple ‘group by category’ palynology panel – that is, I’ve kept all the basic options except changing “group data by” to “category”. In the real world this would be better as groups, for which you will also need to restrict the outer panel to a group set.

Everybody should be familiar with the “relative (inner)” calculation style – it’s been in StrataBugs since the year dot. It would transform a simple absolute-abundance style plot like this:


Into a relative-abundance plot like this:


Each column shows its count relative to the total count for the analysis across the whole panel. Each row adds up to 100%. Well, OK, nearly 100% – since you asked, we’re rounding up to integer values except where we have less than 1%. Go to the full post…

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Decoupled Panel Templates

A previous comment on this blog noted “I still forget that changing something on the template I’m working on changes all the previously made charts.” I promised to address the subject of decoupled panels. I don’t want to call this a “solution” because that would imply that templated panels are a problem! It is really useful to template panels, in the right context (more on that below).

Decoupled panels have their place too. Sometimes you will want to make modifications to a panel which are very specific to one block template, project or well. Not only are you sure that you won’t need the panel elsewhere, you also want to protect it from out-of-context modification in the future.

You could “copy” an existing panel template and work with your copy. You would still need to remember not to modify it later, and it would still be clutter in your panel templates list.

Decoupling is the process of making the copied panel template “local” or “private” to a block template. The panel is no longer associated with its original template; it is not named, it will not appear in the tree and cannot be used in other blocks. If the block template is read-only then this panel cannot be edited. Its settings will be lost if the block template is deleted. Underneath, it’s still using a panel template, but for all practical purposes the panel properties become part of the block template.

decoupled Go to the full post…

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Organising Blocks in a Multi-Well Chart

Creating multi-well charts from projects is a simple matter of dragging and dropping your chosen block template (if you aren’t sure, visit this page). Here are some tips for organising and arranging blocks once they are in your chart.



When you “drop” the well block template onto the chart, the block import dialog gives you some ordering options. To take advantage of location-based ordering, you must enter latitude/longitude values by editing wells in the Wells & Outcrops module.


You can access the same options later by right-clicking anywhere in the chart and choosing “Re-order well blocks”. This retains each block’s properties (whereas deleting the blocks and adding them again would not) – so you can quickly experiment to find the most appropriate order.


The area between blocks separates them visually and is also where correlation lines will be drawn. To control the amount of space, open the Chart Properties dialog FrameSamples_ChartProperties and set the “Between blocks” value on the Dimensions tab.

For those who have used the legacy charts – this replaces the functionality of the “blank panel”. You can use the “Blank” panel template type to create space within blocks.


You could also take advantage of the “Relative Spacing” option. This uses the well coordinates to give an indication of physically how far apart the wells are. The values are calculated by scaling the straight line distance between adjacent wells so that the average distance between all blocks is equal to the “Between blocks” value. If there are no well coordinates for the block, the “Between blocks” value will be used. The gaps will be no larger than five times the average and no smaller than one fifth of the average. This allows you to compare wells on eastern and western margins for example, while ignoring the current sea bed between. You can enter latitude/longitude values by editing the well  in the Wells & Outcrops module.

Depth Ranges

You can manually change the depth range for each block by typing in the block properties table -which could be a tedious job if you have lots of wells!

It can be easier (and more useful) to select the depth range based on some data you are displaying. Right-click in any panel and choose “Snap block depth to panel content” to use the data range of the panel as the block’s depth range (e.g. for an events panel where the first event is at 2730m and the last event is at 2849m, the block depth range will  be set to 2730-2849).

An even better way to use the data is to select the range for all blocks together by choosing intervals or events as “data boundaries”. Right-click anywhere and choose “Select depth range for all well blocks”:


Now you can choose intervals or events which will define the depth range for all wells. The text in blue shows how many of the wells in your chart have data for the selected boundaries (other well blocks’ depth ranges will not be changed). This is a convenient way to select an area of interest for all wells, which you can later refine as necessary. As long as you remembered to save your chart before you started, you can use “Chart > Restore saved properties” to “undo” your changes.

Depth range for all blocks selected as "Thanetian - Middle Campanian".
Depth range for all blocks selected as “Thanetian – Middle Campanian”.
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Variable Scale Sections

This is an old chestnut: you want to show different sections of your chart at different scales. The big picture is important, but most of the detail is in one small part. Thankfully you can now have your cake and eat it, by setting up scale sections.

Here’s one such example, where it would be nice to see the detail around the section of event picking without losing the overall chronostratigraphic picture.


To do this, we need to bring up the block properties.
Now we can type a value into the last row on the table (“<new section…>”). The first event is at 2720m, so we’ll start the new section just above, at 2710m.


Now press enter, and we have a new scale section for the lower area of the chart, which has its own scale value. With a few tweaks, we can get a lot more data into the same size chart:


A symbol in the depth scale panel indicates that there is a change in scale:


You make as many scale sections as you like – just keep adding them in the same way. To remove a section, increase the range of the section before or after it such that it completely covers the unwanted section.

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