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National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program

The GCMS Collection Determination Process

Geologic collections and samples throughout the USGS should be considered for inclusion in the GCMS. The preliminary criteria for these evaluations can be found in figure 3 of the GCMS and here, The GCMS Collection Determination Process. This decision tree was based on the GCMS preferred sample data specifications (appendix 2 of the GCMS) and provides a graphic representation of the disposition of a collection in the chain of custody. Using this tree allows collections managers and administrators to establish the appropriate course of action regarding the indexing and disposition of samples.

GCMS Cllections Determination Process

Four required data points assist in identifying the samples and collections being evaluated, known as the 4-Point Standard

  1. identification number assigned to the sample in the field, 
  2. where the sample was collected, 
  3. who collected the sample, and
  4. when the sample was collected. 

If these criteria are not met, there should be compelling evidence to justify keeping the sample. During the evaluation process, if any legacy or resource collection is determined to have possible long-term historic or scientific value, the Smithsonian Institution should be consulted for possible transfer of that collection to the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The Smithsonian Institution has first right of refusal to USGS specimens. Other appropriate museums or universities may be contacted if the Smithsonian Institution refuses the specimens. If samples in the collection were derived from federal lands, appropriate documentation from the federal agency with jurisdiction over the collection sites shall be included with the sample prior to donation to the NMNH or other appropriate museum.

There are occasions when the USGS may be offered collections from outside entities, such as academic or industrial sources, because the care and preservation of those collections cannot be properly maintained by their current repositories. If they are of scientific value to the USGS, these donated collections should be evaluated for inclusion into the GCMS.