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UW Scientist Releases Free Earth Science Software

February 16, 2016
man sitting at desk and looking at computer
Yuri Ganshin, chief geophysicist at UW’s Carbon Management Institute, demonstrates an application of the Digital Geophysical Laboratory, a collection of free and open source C/C++ codes that will run on any computer platform. Ganshin recently released the earth science software that he began developing more than 20 years ago. (UW Photo)

A University of Wyoming scientist recently released free earth science software that he began developing more than two decades ago.

Yuri Ganshin, chief geophysicist at UW’s Carbon Management Institute, designed the Digital Geophysical Laboratory (DGL), a collection of free and open source C/C++ codes that will run on any computer platform. The software contains applications for those working in the geoscience fields, including geology, geophysics, petrography and petrology.

The software can be used to process and analyze seismic data, and visualize and analyze well log data related to the oil and gas industry, among other tasks.

A feature that distinguishes the DGL from other earth science software is that it is cross-platform. Creating such a product developed over time and out of necessity.

In the early 1990s, Ganshin was a graduate student and a part-time research assistant in the UW Department of Geology and Geophysics, where he worked on Unix-based workstations with commercial seismic-processing software. During that time, Scott Smithson, now professor emeritus of geology, encouraged him to start developing software. He started to develop the DGL that used Unix-specific graphical user interface (GUI).

Later, he switched from using Unix-based machines to Apple machines with the Mac OS X operating system. He had to recompile his software to work on Apple computers. At some point, he switched to Linux machines, and he says he experienced a similar problem.

“I was faced with the necessity to recompile codes completely from the very beginning because of the different software development kits that enable graphical user interface on different platforms,” Ganshin says.

Ganshin eventually discovered the Fast Light Toolkit, a free software that enables GUI for different platforms. By pairing the toolkit with his software applications, Ganshin was able to make the DGL a cross-platform product; it can run on machines using Unix, Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X operating systems.

Because he used free software while developing his own software, he says he decided to make his DGL a free and open source.

“To ‘open’ software means that you distribute not only executable applications, but you have to distribute the source code itself,” Ganshin says. “Anybody who is interested can recompile this code or modify it according to his or her needs.”

A key component of the software is flexibility. Additionally, the DGL does not use a large amount of disk space on a computer, and a computer does not need to be connected to a licensed server as with commercial software.

Although primarily intended for use by geoscientists, the software can be used by other researchers, he says.

“Using the similarity of principles for digital data processing, you can easily transfer the software that already exists, for example, for geological data interpretation to biology or some other sciences,” Ganshin says.

Ganshin has developed more codes that he will post online if there is an interest, he says.

For more information or to download the DGL, go to For questions, email Ganshin at

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