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Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril
FIGURE 4-1 Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) management structure. Advice from the JOIDES (Joint Oceanographic Institutions for Deep Earth Sampling) science advisory structure (right-hand box) is fed through an Executive Committee (EXCOM) to the prime contractor—JOI. Other acronym definitions for Figure 4-1 are: BoG: Board of Governors; TAMU: Texas A&M University; LDEO: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; SCICOM: Scientific Committee; OPCOM: Operations Committee; TEDCOM: Technology and Engineering Development Committee; SSEP: Science Steering and Evaluation Panel; SSP: Site Survey Panel; PPSP: Pollution Prevention and Safety Panel; SCIMP: Scientific Measurements Panel.
prevent this mistake, the state geological surveys of Alaska (see Sidebar 3-5), Nevada, and Oklahoma have used sea-going shipping containers to store overflow cores until more permanent facilities can be built. Access is limited and not conducive to casual examination, but the vital documentation of sample identity remains intact.
The quality of space provides a degree of security necessary for all collections. While the commercial value of fossil specimens, gems, and meteorites requires that they be protected from theft, all collections deserve protection from loss from other agents of destruction, such as vandalism, weather, insects, mold, and even mishandling by staff and clients. Examples of losses of geoscience data held by state geological surveys extends to earthquake (Alaska), building collapse (Maine), flooding (Kentucky), collapse of shelving (North Carolina and Texas), and exposure (Tennessee) (see Appendix B for sources).
Effective Use of Space
Lack of available space is commonplace at the nation’s repositories (see Table 2-3a,b). The quality and amount of space devoted to geoscience collections are highly variable among institutions, and reflect, to some extent, funding and priority assigned by an institution’s upper management.
The physical layout of a repository involves several elements relating to space. In addition to space for collections, considerations include adequate processing areas for unpacking, washing, drying, cutting, and sorting samples; cataloging and palletizing; shipping and receiving; workflow considerations from receipt through storage safety and comfort of the staff; security for the collection; and sufficient weight-bearing capability of the shelving and floors (particularly to withstand the load from core collections). For effective use of space, the shelves, racks, cabinets, or drawers in repositories must be closely spaced yet accessible, often stacked high, and durable (so as not to require repeated replacement). Another space consideration is adequate layout and examination space (Figure 4-2), which, ideally, is near the storage area, with appropriate examination equipment (e.g., microscopes), services (e.g., sampling and photography), adequate lighting, and privacy (if necessary).
Ideally, storage facilities are designed to be expanded easily. This is usually a direct function of the value of land upon which the facility is sited. Good examples are C&M Storage in Texas (Sidebar 3-1) and the Ocean Drilling Program repository at Texas A&M University (Sidebar 3-3). The New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mines repository at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMIMT) constructs additional core storage facilities relatively inexpensively and quickly by erecting 30- by 100-foot, uninsulated, ventilated storage facilities equipped with skylights. Since these are on the NMIMT campus, land-acquisition costs are zero. The recently constructed expandable core curation facilities at the state geological