2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


DUTTON, Shirley P., Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin, Box X, University Station, Austin, TX 78713, GOLDSTEIN, Steven L., Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory 61 Route 9W, Columbia Univ, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964 and DEJARNETT, Beverly Blakeney, Houston Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin, Bureau of Economic Geology, 11611 W. Little York Road, Houston, TX 77041, shirley.dutton@beg.utexas.edu

Acquisition of terrestrial cores, rock samples, and fossils is an essential part of research for many disciplines in the Earth sciences. The research community has assembled a wealth of geoscience data and collections through large public investment in sampling, analyses, and evaluation. Many samples that have been key to advancing our knowledge of the Earth have been lost because universities and research institutions do not want to store rock samples, and those that still exist are in imminent danger of being lost. In the terrestrial Earth sciences, unlike the marine sciences, this situation is partly due to the absence of adequate facilities where samples can be permanently preserved, accessed, and resampled as needed.

There has been increasing consensus that the academic research community needs a scientific sample repository for terrestrial cores, samples, and collections so that they can be made easily available for further investigation. The National Science Foundation's Earth Science Division has acquired space within the Houston Research Center for storage and curation of such materials. An integral part of the system is a user-friendly Web-based catalog, integrated in the geosciences cyberinfrastructure, that allows researchers to locate samples. Metadata must accompany the samples submitted to the facility. An advisory committee consisting of members of the academic constituency of the facility will review operations and guide policy for acquisition, deacquisition, sampling, and distribution of materials. Objectives of the sampling policy are to encourage scientific analyses over a wide range of research disciplines by providing samples to the scientific community, and to preserve core material, rock samples, and collections as an archive for future research.

Such a sample storage facility advances knowledge and understanding in Earth science by preserving precious rock material acquired with public funds, providing a public catalog of the material, and making samples readily available for research and education. Major advances in Earth science commonly result from many stages of analyses over long periods of time by different research groups. This is only possible to the extent that rock material is preserved and made available to the researchers in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost.