GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 280-7
Presentation Time: 9:45 AM


HILLS, Denise J., Energy Investigations, Geological Survey of Alabama, P.O. Box 869999, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999 and MCINTYRE-REDDEN, Marcella R., Energy Investigations Program, Geological Survey of Alabama, P.O. Box 869999, Tuscaloosa, AL 35486-6999,

The Geological Survey of Alabama (GSA) has been collecting and storing geological samples since its founding in 1848. As more information is being pushed online and into the cloud, the GSA is working to make our geological samples, numbering in the tens of thousands, more discoverable through sample registration. Preparing the sample metadata for registration requires internal quality assessment so that the most accurate metadata is made available.

Over the past century and a half, the GSA’s sample collection has had various caretakers. These caretakers have recorded information for a wide variety of specimen types, often in their own system. Merging these various records has proved challenging. Specific challenges we have encountered while improving discoverability of our core and geologic sample collection include:

  1. Omission of information through “general knowledge”
  2. Omission of information through personal organizational systems
  3. Inconsistent notational systems
  4. Inconsistent and/or conflicting identification systems

To address these challenges, we have embarked on a process we are terming “metadata archaeology.” We have had to dig through old records, including formal and in-house publications, regulatory forms, and personal databases. Additionally, we have rediscovered other information sources (e.g., a filing cabinet full of well cards explaining some of the labels on the sample boxes) that no current employees knew we had. Sometimes, we have had to contact retired personnel to clarify information recorded. Most importantly, we have had to evaluate what sources should be considered most reliable to ensure that we have the most accurate metadata for sample registration.

  • HillsRedden_GSA_2016_wide.pptx (12.0 MB)