National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program

FY 2016 USGS Grants

Archive of Legacy Field Maps, Notebooks, Rock Samples, and Thin Sections Data Collections from the Northern and Southern Appalachian Orogeny - Preserving Geologic Field Investigations Collections of Douglas W. Rankin

This collection represents 52 years of research conducted by Douglas Rankin with the USGS. The geologic collections consist of field research from the Blue Ridge, Virginia–North Carolina–Tennessee, and New England, primarily Vermont and New Hampshire. The USGS Appalachian Blue Ridge and Northeastern Bedrock Mapping projects are actively conducting research in areas overlapping the legacy work of Doug Rankin. These critical collections need to be preserved and incorporated into active studies before they are lost and/or destroyed. Further, the Rankin collections will inform future federal, state, and academic projects in these regions.

Digitization of Aerial Photographs Recording Landscape Changes Following Mount St. Helens Eruption

After the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980, and throughout 1980-1986, the USGS employed aerial photography to visually monitor landscape changes. No digital copies of these aerial photographs from the 1980s exist and these film rolls are housed in their original film canisters and stored in lockers. The films are at risk of damage from vinegar syndrome and further degradation because they are not properly archived. Seventy-three rolls of film (~30,000 frames) will be digitized, associated metadata and photo index files will be created, and film rolls will be archived for long-term preservation at the USGS/EROS Data Center. Additionally, approximately 2,000 aerial photo prints and diapositives will be scanned for photogrammetric use to reconstruct the topographic evolution of Mount St. Helens, providing new scientific insights into long-term volcanic landscape changes.

Preparing USGS Pacific Region’s Microfossil Collections for Transfer to the Museum of Paleontology, University of California

The calcareous nannofossil and silicoflagellate collection of USGS Emeritus Research Geologist Dr. David Bukry will be archived and transferred to Museum of Paleontology, University of California in Berkeley. Many of these specimens were vital to the development of calcareous nannofossil and silicoflagellate biostratigraphy and paleoecology, advancing the field of paleoceanography, and enhanced the understanding of the geologic history of the western US. During his 50-year career, Dr. Bukry produced more than 150 professional publications. Preservation of the collection will include converting hand-written field notebooks and information on index cards to digital format, entering the locality and specimen information into a database, labeling slides with identifiers, and properly storing the slides, vials, bulk samples, and photographic materials in the appropriate museum holdings. The end result of this project is to generate locality and specimen records for online dissemination, making them readily accessible to the research community as well as the public that the USGS serves.

USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center Core and Sample Curation

The USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC) has over 15,000 core sections in its collection and as many small bagged samples from marine, lacustrine, fluvial, and terrestrial environments. These samples help to inform studies that include environment, climate, habitat, pollution, and hazard research such as landslides (marine and terrestrial), erosion, sea-level rise, earthquake and tsunami hazards. PCMSC needs to replace the traditional plastic wrap used to wrap cores, because it does not adequately seal the core sections and allows cores to desiccate, oxidize, and deteriorate. Instead, shrink-wrapping cores with food grade shrink wrap, used by industry and the military, has been proven to preserve core samples for decades. The PCMSC core samples collection is accessed by many in and outside the USGS and has proved to be an extremely valuable asset for research, especially paleo-climate and hazards studies.

The Nation’s High Threat Volcanoes: Definitive Rock Archive

The USGS California Volcano Observatory (CalVO), in Menlo Park, CA, is seeking funding to archive definitive resource collections of rock and ash from two of the Nation’s High Threat volcanic centers - Katmai and Emmons Lake in Alaska. Archiving these critical rock and ash collections will avail them for use in future studies. Under congressional mandate, the CalVO aims to enhance public safety and minimize societal disruption through delivery of authoritative volcano hazard forecasts for use by government officials, emergency service authorities, and the at-risk public. Geochemical, petrographic, geochronologic, and paleomagnetic analysis of these samples provide the data on which USGS hazard forecasts rely, along with field-based research and real-time seismic, geodetic, and geochemical monitoring of the most threatening systems. Society’s expectation for defensible decision making by government officials and emergency service authorities during natural disasters make the archiving of critical scientific samples an imperative.

Conversion of High-Resolution Seismic Reflection Profiles from Analog to Digital Format

The USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Program has actively collected geophysical and sedimentologic data in the northern Gulf of Mexico for several decades, including shallow subsurface data in the form of high-resolution seismic reflection profiles (HRSP). Prior to the early 1990s most HRSP data were collected in analog format as paper rolls of continuous profiles up to 25m long. Paper copies of data are difficult and expensive to duplicate and share with other facilities, and cannot be analyzed using todays’ standard GIS and interpretative technologies. Conversion of these data into a usable digital format is necessary to provide the geologic information that otherwise will be lost, requiring additional redundant and expensive marine-geophysical surveys. The USGS will scan its Outer Continental Shelf analog HRSP holdings using a large format continuous scanner. The digital files will be converted into accessible TIF images and converted to industry standard SEG-Y format. To accompany the HRSP, navigation and metadata files will be generated for use in GIS, database, and IMAP services, and reported in USGS Data Series archives and the National Digital Catalog.

Inventory and Cataloging of USGS Conodont Collections

The conodont laboratories at USGS facilities in Reston, Virginia, house thousands of conodont collections, including: a) the research collections of six USGS conodont researchers dating from the 1940s to the present; b) faunal collections from USGS, academia, and other geologists that were submitted to USGS conodont researchers for examination and reporting; and c) other conodont collections given or donated to USGS over the years. For example, one of the acquired collections includes hundreds of conodont samples (partly to completely processed) donated by Shell Oil Company in 1994, when Shell disbanded their paleontological research laboratories. Most of these collections have never been inventoried and collectively are among the largest conodont collections in the world. The collections are not only a source of data for USGS conodont researchers, but are also frequently requested for access by numerous non-USGS workers. The information based on these collections has been applied to studies involving geologic mapping and age-dating of geologic formations, paleoclimate, paleogeography, paleobiology, mineral and hydrocarbon energy resources, karst studies, and earthquake hazards. Inventory of these collections will ensure USGS continues to make these collections accessible and available for ongoing and future usage.