GSA Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, USA - 2016

Paper No. 105-16
Presentation Time: 11:45 AM


STAMM, Nancy R.1, SOLLER, David R.1 and WARDWELL, Robert C.2, (1)U.S. Geological Survey, 908 National Center, Reston, VA 20192, (2)U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Geological Survey, 1300 SE Cardinal Ct. Building 10, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA 98683,

Since the USGS’s founding, paleontology has been an essential component of its geologic science. Paleontology as conducted in the USGS is not focused chiefly on systematics, but rather on working with related disciplines, notably providing “service work” to geologic mappers in need of biostratigraphic interpretations. This service work is manifested in a large set of correspondence, notes, and provisional reports to the geologists that requested biostratigraphic determinations. For many decades, the USGS Paleontology and Stratigraphy Branch (P&S) maintained its collection of these informal reports (“Examination and Report on Referred Fossils”, or E&Rs). Several years ago, this collection, some 15,000 in number, was scanned by the National Geologic Map Database project, with the intention of providing Web access to the reports. Because of their provisional nature, the intention was to password-protect the Website.

By using the fossil collection information in P&S’s set of unpublished E&Rs as a starting point, we’re able to link together many seemingly disparate publications (e.g., comprehensive, formal publications on systematic paleontology, geologic maps and monographs) on the basis of the fossil information that they share. This is a powerful tool, as it enables the scientist to grasp the breadth of information and data associated with the region or topic of study, and therefore build upon previous work in a systematic fashion.

The unpublished reports, most of which were provisional and later altered during preparation for formal publication by the paleontologists, therefore do not serve as the most authoritative paleontologic and stratigraphic information for scientific analyses. Providing scans of these reports at our Website would not necessarily advance scientific knowledge and progress, but instead could greatly hinder it. They do, however, provide invaluable insight into the paleontologist’s logic and methods for biostratigraphic correlations.