From Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin (
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Bureau Seminar, September 23, 2005

Curation of Continental Scientific Cores and Samples at
the Houston Research Center

Shirley P. Dutton, Steven L. Goldstein, Beverly Blakeney DeJarnett


Acquisition of continental cores and rock samples is an essential part of research for many disciplines in the Earth sciences. The research community has assembled a wealth of 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 cannot 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 due partly 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 (NSF/EAR) has provided pilot funding to acquire space within the Houston Research Center (HRC) for curation of terrestrial rock samples and cores procured by research projects funded through NSF/EAR. The Bureau proposes to maintain a facility at the HRC for long-term storage and curation of this material and facilitate continued access to, and use of, the material by researchers in the academic community. Laboratories and equipment needed for examining and sampling the material will be provided for the use of visiting researchers.

HRC staff will store and curate the core and samples, respond to requests by researchers for samples, assist visiting researchers at the facility, and maintain the metadata associated with the samples as part of the Geosciences Cyberinfrastructure. An Advisory Committee consisting of members of the academic community who use continental samples and cores in their research and who are experienced in scientific curation will be established to advise the HRC on acquisition, deacquisition, sampling, and distribution of NSF/EAR material. An integral part of the system will be a user-friendly Web-based catalog that allows researchers to locate samples.