Worskshop: Curation of Terrestrial Scientific Cores, samples and Collections

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Acquisition of terrestrial cores, rock samples, and fossils is critical for conducting much of the geologic research supported by NSF/EAR. Because of the volume of rock material involved and disinterest among host research institutions, long-term storage, preservation, and curation of these materials are beyond the resources of most NSF/EAR-funded academic researchers. Most researchers have a place where cores, samples, and fossils can be accessed during the initial stages of research and sampling, but lack an adequate facility where these materials can be permanently preserved, accessed, and sampled/resampled as needed. Moreover, the samples are commonly discarded after the study due to a lack of storage space either by the PI or by the host institution. When the PI retires, in most cases the samples are discarded by the institution, making them inaccessible to further study by the greater Earth Sciences community.

At present, no NSF-supported facility exists for the permanent storage and curation of terrestrial rock cores, samples, or paleontologic collections acquired during NSF/EAR-funded research for continental-based projects. Such facilities are in place for cores collected by the Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) and for marine core and dredge samples collected on NSF-funded cruises (e.g., Texas A&M, LDEO, WHOI, FSU, Scripps, Oregon State). Lacustrine sediment cores are stored at LacCore, operated by the Limnological Research Center; this national facility for curation of lacustrine sediment cores at the University of Minnesota is funded by NSF/EAR. Samples from the Antarctic and Arctic are now being archived at the U.S. Polar Rock Repository at the Ohio State University. However, no comparable facility exists for non-polar continental drilling cores or for important terrestrial rock samples. Similarly, no central site exists for the storage and curation of key paleontologic collections that are not amenable to archiving in museums.


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