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Paper No. 4
Presentation Time: 2:15 PM


ADRIAN, Betty M., U.S. Geological Survey, USGS, Box 25046, Mail Stop 975, Denver, CO 80225,

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is widely recognized in the earth science community as possessing extensive collections of geologic materials gathered by its research personnel. Since the USGS was established in 1879, thousands of samples have been gathered in collections that range from localized assemblages to ones that are national or international in scope. These materials include, but are not limited to, rock and mineral specimens; fossils; drill cores; geochemical standards; and soil, sediment, and geochemical samples.

In April 2008, USGS management convened the Geologic Materials Repository Working Group to investigate the best approach for implementing the National Geologic and Geophysical Preservation Program’s mandate to catalog, archive, and preserve geologic and geophysical samples and data. This group examined ways in which these collections could be coordinated, registered, and made available to researchers both inside and outside the USGS. To this end, the group developed the USGS Geologic Collections Management System (GCMS), which includes criteria for evaluating current collections and establishes an operating plan and set of standard practices for handling, identifying, and retaining future sample collections. The GCMS Collection Management Plan provides a set of protocols and templates for the collection, access, storage, transfer, and disposal of physical geologic samples. The plan is flexible enough to allow each USGS repository to adapt the practices best suited to its collections’ needs and uses.

Benefits of establishing the GCMS go beyond the standardization of collection management practices. The GCMS will be an invaluable resource for the scientific community. It will level the playing field for all users, allowing access to collections by researchers, wherever they are located. It will also facilitate communication and hopefully enhance collaboration between a project’s principal investigators and anyone interested in the same research topic. Scientists will be able to save both time and money by seeing what data are already available. When implemented, the GCMS will provide all interested parties with a framework that will allow discovery of the USGS’s great wealth of geologic samples and associated digital data and ancillary materials.

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