Preservation of geoscience data and materials in the United States is currently the responsibility of a set of disparate facilities and programs. There are no national standards, procedures, and protocols for the collections and minimal coordination between responsible parties. Although some collection facilities are excellent, more commonly, data and materials reside in inadequately cataloged, overfilled, and disorganized storage areas that were not designed as data repositories. Many Federal and State geological repositories are at or near capacity and are unable to accept additional materials.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58, Sec. 351) established the NGGDPP in the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and outlined the following goals:

  • Archive geological, geophysical, and engineering data, maps, well logs, and samples
  • Provide a national catalog of archived materials
  • Provide technical and financial assistance to State geological surveys and relevant Department of the Interior (DOI) bureaus for archived materials
Mined Map (click image for larger view)

Economic mine maps, folded and stored away for years—even decades, have degraded over time and are vulnerable to destruction and deterioration.

Restored Map (click image for larger view)

Restored maps provide information that can assist in land management planning and public safety. Without proper conservation and preservation, this valuable resource would be lost.

AASG/USGS Photo (click image for larger view)

During the 2009 AASG/USGS Geoscience Data Preservation Techniques Workshop, participants were given a demonstration on how the IGS prepares degrading mine maps for preservation and digitization.

All photographs courtesy of Indiana Geological Survey

Data Preservation Partnerships

The Program, administered by the USGS, comprises State geological surveys and agencies within the DOI that maintain geological and geophysical data and samples. Together these diverse groups are working to:

  • Inventory collections of materials and data that exist in State geological surveys and DOI agencies to identify preservation and data-rescue needs
  • Design and begin populating a National Digital Catalog
  • Develop guidelines for distribution of Program funds and establish priorities for Program activities
  • Establish minimum standards, procedures, and protocols for preserving and archiving collections of geological and geophysical materials and data

The focus of NGGDPP activities is currently limited to State geological surveys that elect to participate and agencies with the DOI. However, valuable collections exist elsewhere and partnerships with industry and academia are encouraged to preserve additional archival material. 

What's New?

Publication sponsored by the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program providing guidance for preservation and management of scientific collections:

The U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Collections Management System (GCMS) - A Master Catalog and Collections Management Plan for USGS Geologic Samples and Sample Collections

by the Geologic Materials Repository Working Group

Available at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1410