USGS Hosts the 2013 Meeting of the Curators of Marine and Lacustrine Geological Samples Group
As ocean-exploration technology continues to improve, our window onto the seafloor is becoming clearer and our understanding of its resources, ecosystems, and landforms continually grows. Bathymetric and sonar data provide us with remote views of the seafloor using physics, but samples plucked from the seabed give us tangible evidence of what is actually down there. These samples—usually collected as mud-filled cores, dredged rocks, and shallow surface grab samples—provide scientists with a wealth of information, ranging from grain size and composition to potential anthropogenic contamination and its effects. If properly preserved and curated, these cores, dredge hauls, and grab samples can be useful to generations of researchers.
Facilities storing these samples are scattered throughout the country and around the globe. They vary in size and the scope of their collections as well as in capabilities and resources dedicated to curation. The Curators of Marine and Lacustrine Geological Samples Group is a community formed out of the need to develop common preservation standards throughout these facilities and to share ideas and collections-management strategies. This group provides a forum for sharing information through mailing lists, meetings, and a website hosted by the National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC).
From June 11–13, 2013, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC), in cooperation with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), hosted the 2013 meeting of the Curators of Marine and Lacustrine Geological Samples Group (hereinafter Curators Group) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This meeting, normally held every 2 years, brings together professionals in the fields of marine geology collections management, database design, and marine policy with the purpose of sharing collections-management strategies and fostering collaboration among universities, Federal repositories, and international organizations dedicated to the preservation and curation of marine geological samples.
Fourteen members of the Curators Group gathered in the WHCMSC’s Tilley Conference Room, and several other members joined via teleconference technology. The 3-day meeting included reports from repositories at academic institutions (University of Rhode Island, Oregon State University, and—new to the group—the University of Hawai’i and the Polar Rock Repository at the Ohio State University); U.S. research institutions (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory [LDEO], Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Antarctic Marine Geology Research Facility, and WHOI); governmental organizations (WHCMSC, the USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center, the British Ocean Sediment Core Research Facility, and Canada’s Bedford Institute of Oceanography); and an international marine research program (Integrated Ocean Drilling Program [IODP]).
(Not all repositories were able to send representatives to the 2013 meeting; visit http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/curator/participants.html to see a complete list of member repositories and contact information.)
On Tuesday afternoon, Carla Moore (NGDC), database administrator for the Curators Group’s Index to Marine and Lacustrine Geological Samples (IMLGS), telephoned into the meeting with a report on the status of the IMLGS and new additions to the database since the last Curators Group meeting in 2011. Next, Candace Major, a program director for marine geology and geophysics in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Ocean Sciences, presented an overview of NSF ocean-science activities and curation practices.
On Wednesday, Kerstin Lehnert, director of Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA) at LDEO, introduced the group to IEDA’s services, including EarthChem, a website for access to geochemical data systems and services, and SESAR (System for Earth Sample Registration), an international registry that provides unique identifiers for geologic samples. Bob Arko, lead systems analyst at LDEO’s Division of Marine Geology and Geophysics, then telephoned in to discuss “linked” data and collaborative work between the IMLGS and the Rolling Deck to Repository (R2R), an initiative for collecting, transmitting, and archiving “underway” data from U.S. academic oceanographic expeditions.
Research presentations included a Tuesday afternoon talk on ice cores and climate research by Alison Criscitiello, a graduate student in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology/WHOI Joint Program, and a Thursday morning talk on paleoclimate research at LDEO by Maureen Raymo, director of the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository.
The meeting attendees also enjoyed two afternoon outings: on Tuesday, a guided tour of local conservation land Beebe Woods, featuring the geology and wildlife of Cape Cod; and on Wednesday, walking tours of the WHCMSC and WHOI core repositories, as well as a tour of the National Ocean Sciences Accelerator Mass Spectrometry Facility (NOSAMS) on WHOI’s Quissett campus.
The full meeting agenda, a list of participants, PowerPoint presentations, and meeting information are posted online at http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/mgg/curator/meetings/2013/.The next Curators Group meeting will be hosted by the IODP Gulf Coast Repository in Texas. Details will be announced as they become available on the IMLGS website. For questions about the Curators Group or the IMLGS, please contact Carla Moore or Brian Buczkowski.
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