July 7, 2021 (Updates on July 12 indicated in color)

Dear Digital Rocks Community:
Fees for larger projects are going to be enforced for users of Digital Rocks Portal.  We are proposing new community-supported model for Digital Rocks Portal (DRP) and are soliciting input.

We are thankful for your contributions to open data: Digital Rocks Portal is currently growing at a steady rate of 30-40 projects per year, and with growth, it is getting both more valuable to the community and harder to maintain.  Open science (including data) is unfortunately not free and has to have a funding model.  Most of the cost is not the storage or virtual machine itself, but the programming required to keep it functional as well as improve over time, and eventually connect data to simulation. Starting September 1, 2021 we will establish fees (either for individual projects or for institutions) in order to keep serving the research community, remain sustainable and get a chance to improve services.

Note that the projects that are created before July 15, 2021 and submitted for publication before August 1, 2021 are “grandfathered” in and those do not need to pay the fee.   Note that everyone  publishing in DRP since 2017 so far has already agreed to pay a fee  according to the user agreement: https://www.digitalrocksportal.org/user-agreement that they agree to before submitting the project for publication. That agreement has not been enforced (i.e. we have never charged anyone the fee)  in order to establish a good user base. We also do not find that the particular model proposed in the current user agreement is a feasible one.

We are open to all suggestions and want to understand the restrictions  all users might have based on their funding sources and/or  governmental agencies. We want to make this resource financially viable and as accessible as possible. Please use this form to provide comments before Aug 15, 2021 or email Dr. Prodanovic directly.

Majority of the changes between the current user agreement  and the proposed user agreement is in how fees are established  in Section 4:


4. Storage and maintenance fee.  Digital Rocks Portal is transitioning to a community-supported business model. Digital Rocks Portal is an established and valuable repository for the subsurface engineering and geosciences communities, growing at a steady rate, Starting September 1 of 2021 we will begin to implement a fee structure that will allow us to remain active and providing services to the community. Note that the projects that are created before July 15, 2021 and submitted for publication before August 1, 2021 are “grandfathered” and do not need to pay the fee. All others will need to pay the fee before the projects are published.

Recall that projects are private until published, at which point they get a DOI and are available for download. Exact fees are due after a year of project creation or upon the project g publication, whichever comes first. If the fee is not paid the user will have 2 months to download the data before it is removed from the system.

4.1 Free basic individual membership

Basic membership for users with individual projects (of up to 10 projects, private or public) with less than 2GB in size each are free. Public projects on DRP are open data and free for download for anyone, but they do need to register on DRP and they thus automatically obtain free membership.

4.2. Paid individual membership for users with private or published projects

A project fee can be establlished for and paid either by individual user or the institution this user belongs to. Paid users benefit from services outlined in Section 4.5.

Individual project-based fees (one time, per project)

This is similar to the open access fees that journals establish for having papers accessible to everyone (as opposed to institutions, such as university libraries, that otherwise pay for access for their members). As of July 2021, Transport in Porous Media (Springer) charges $3280 for open access, Advances in Water Resources (Elsevier) charges $3510 and Water Resources Research (Wiley) charges $2500.

Project size

Less than 2GB

2-500 GB


Open data publication fee




4.3. Institutional membership (annual) for users with private or published projects

Institutions (universities, companies, departments etc.) can pay a yearly fee and can have any number of members. The project is affiliated with an institution if the primary project author belongs to the institution. The fee is calculated/assessed based on the data size in all affiliated projects (published or private) at the time of establishing institutional membership and re-assessed yearly thereafter. In this case, the individual project-based fee above is waived and the fees are assessed per table below instead. Based on the current proposal, the fees would be assesed for new projects within the year (i.e. each project is technically paid for at one time). For example, if an academic institution publishes 10 projects of 40GB each in (academic year) 2021/22, and then 10 additional projects in 2022/23 of the same size, then in both years the fee is the same ($5,000).

If individual membership is converted to the institutional, already-paid-for data sets do count against the new total.

Paid users benefit from services outlined in Section 4.5.


Less than 500GB per year

500GB-1TB per year

1-3TB per year









Companies that are part of the Digital Rock Petrophysics IAP (PI Prodanovic) at UT Austin are automatically institutional members of Digital Rocks Portal for the years they pay the IAP membership fee.

4.4. Data enthusiast membership for users with no stored data (annual)

If you would like to be foundational supporter of DRP (and get benefits of data access outline in Section 4.5), but have no projects of the size that incurs a fee, please consider annual membership as follows:


Data enthusiast







4.5. Benefits for paid users

Paid users (individual or institutional) will have the following benefits:

  1. Remote visualization on the website;
  2. Assistance in uploading large datasets;
  3. Jupyter notebook access to the data for manipulation of the data on the portal and access to Python worksheets for their analysis, and
  4. Access to direct download of all published projects (download of individual projects is free, but requires clicking on each dataset landing webpage for download);
  5. Guarantee of project reviewed for publication within 14 days after project submission, and responses to any updates within 2 business days. For more details on project review, see Section 3.

5. Storage Limits.  Limits on amount of storage space per project are as set by the DRP. For the time being, we assume the limit of 3TB and encourage users to discuss the storage limit with Dr. Prodanovic.



4. Storage and Maintenance Fees for Private Data.  The DRP is currently funded via federal grant and Users are charged no fees to use it.  Beginning September 1, 2017, Users will be responsible for paying a storage fee of $258 per 1 TB of data per year, and portal maintenance fee according to the following schedule.

  Less than 5TB of data 5 - 20TB of data Greater than 20TB of data
Industry user $10,000 $12,000 $15,000
Academic user $2,000 $3,000 $4,000

For Users who have entered into this Agreement on or before September 1, 2017, the fees are assessed based on the storage level on November 1, 2017, and the storage and maintenance fees are due and payable on December 1, 2017, and then on each successive yearly anniversary thereafter. For Users who enter into this Agreement after September 1, 2017, storage and maintenance fees will be assessed based on storage as of 2 months following execution of the Agreement, and payment will be due and payable 3 months after executing the Agreement. If the fee is not paid the user will have 2 months to download the data before it is removed from the system.

5. Storage Limits.  Limits on amount of storage space per project are as set by the DRP. Initially, there will be no limit on the amount of storage space that may be used per project.