A small and sophisticated data system for geochronology and geochemistry labs.

Manage geochemical data

Sparrow allows labs to organize analytical data and track project- and sample-level metadata. Its metadata management interface streamlines tasks such as controlling embargo, identifying and linking geologic and publication metadata, and generating aggregate summaries.

Link to community systems

Sparrow straightforwardly implements FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data-management principles atop current data archives and lab analytical processes. It provides a standard API access layer for geochemical data produced by individual geochronology laboratories, which allows data to be extracted by end users and centralized archives.

Build a web presence

Sparrow's web interface enables aggregate summaries of geochemical data and metadata, driven by your data archive to convey the scope and impact of your lab's work. Useful summaries, such as a map view of sample locations, are bundled by default.

Extend and customize

All parts of Sparrow can be customized. Common metadata-management functionality comes out of the box, but it can be augmented for lab-specific needs. Sparrow is open-source software that is built to be lightweight, flexible, and standards-compliant. It's like Wordpress for geochemical data!


Best practices for data accessibility and archiving are a key concern within the geochronology community. However, many efforts to standardize processes have seen limited community uptake due to the extra work entailed in uploading data into centralized repositories. Meanwhile, evolving time-integrated digital Earth models must be referenced against robust, global age datasets compiled from geochronology data in geologic context.

We attempt to solve two problems at once: first, we want to make it easier for labs to manage their data by allowing them to control their own data system. Second, we want to allow these data systems to be accessible, so data can be aggregated from multiple labs. Ultimately, we hope to automate the annoying process of data archiving.


An early beta version of Sparrow has been implemented in several labs. Large portions of the analytical archive of each lab have been ingested, and work is progressing on building metadata management functionality.


Sparrow is supported by the NSF EarthCube program under grant EAR-1740694, Geochronology Frontier at the Laboratory-Cyberinformatics Interface.

Why Sparrow?

It's not an acronym – the name Sparrow is meant to evoke the spirit of this tool: sparrows are small, familiar birds that come in many different types. They blend easily into human environments.

Sparrow is designed for light weight and ease of management, and embraces diversity — it gives labs control of data and process, within a common framework. Like the bird, each lab's version of Sparrow will look similar to outsiders but have unique characteristics adapted to its situation.