FIGURE 2-1 1,000 feet (333 boxes) of rock core laid out inside the Bureau of Economic Geology Core Facility, University of Texas at Austin. These rows represent data from four wells. Given the average increase in core and cuttings holdings annually, these 333 boxes represent approximately 2 months of average growth (see discussion in Sidebar 3-4). SOURCE: David M. Stephens, Bureau of Economic Geology, The University of Texas at Austin.

because of inadequate space or incentive to retain those worth keeping. Estimating the portion at risk is even more challenging than estimating the total volume. However, the committee estimates that half of all data and collections held by industry, and at least 25 percent of collections held by individuals, academia, and government are endangered. This means that millions of items—specimens, boxes of core and cuttings, tapes, fossils, and paper documents—are in peril of

SIDEBAR 2-1 Findings of the American Geological Institute (AGI) in 1997

Large amounts of geoscience data and materials already have been identified and are in need of storage and curation. As part of a multi-phase study, AGI surveyed private industry participating in geologic activities, largely the major independent petroleum and mining companies. Their 1997 report illustrates that the items in the following table could be expected as a minimum initial contribution of geoscience data and collections from the natural resources industries.

Geoscience Data Available for Transfer from Natural Resources Industries to the Public Domain in 1997:

Cores

10,000,000

linear feet (about 1 million boxes)

Cuttings

2,500,000

boxes

Thin sections

30,000

slides

Seismic (hard copy)

1,500,000

line-miles

Seismic (films)

1,000,000

films

Seismic (digital)

100,000,000

line-miles

Related data

25,000

velocity surveys

Well logs (paper)

5,000,000

logs

Well logs (fiche)

1,500,000

fiche cards

Well logs (digital)

600,000

tapes

Scout tickets

2,500,000

fiche and paper

Geochemical analyses

50,000

paper

SOURCE: AGI, 1997.

being lost. A single facility capable of holding just these endangered materials (i.e., 2 million boxes of core, 4 million boxes of cuttings, 12 million well logs, 150 million line-miles of seismic data, 10 million fossils, with no room for additional samples) would have to be at least 20 times as large as the current USGS Core Research Center in Lakewood, Colorado.

The primary sources of potentially available (and there-



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