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Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center

Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center > Ocean Floor Samples Repository > Overview

USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center Samples Repository


Located on picturesque Cape Cod, the USGS Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center (WHCMSC) has been a member of the prestigious Woods Hole scientific community since the Center’s founding in 1962.

the Quissett Campus in Woods Hole, Mass. Photo Courtesy Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Figure 1. Aerial photograph of the Quissett Campus in Woods Hole, Mass. Photo by Birds Eye View, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. [Larger Version]

From the very start, samples collected by USGS research in Woods Hole have provided invaluable insight into the nature and character of the sea floor—a region which remains to this day one of the least explored places on the Earth. Often, these samples are unique and irreplaceable, either due to the great difficuty and expense in their collection, or the changing nature of the ocean floor that make duplicating the sample impossible.

As an investment in preserving these samples for further investigations, and ensuring that the scientific legacy of USGS research will not be lost, the USGS Branch of Atlantic Marine Geology (as the WHCMSC was once known) established an agreement with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) to collocate collections of USGS marine core, dredge and surface sediment sample collections within WHOI’s Core Lab repository.

Storage vans, referred to as the “Freezer Farm” sit outside the Woods Hole Science Center in 2004

Figure 2. Storage vans, referred to as the "Freezer Farm" sit outside the Woods Hole Science Center in 2004. [Larger Version]

D-tubes containing split cores, as well as subsamples of dredges and sediment grabs collected by USGS researchers are still housed in the WHOI repository and the cooperative agreement between the two institutions is still strong. In addition to the protected storage provided by WHOI, the WHCMSC acquired a number of outdoor climate-controlled vans to store subsamples, split and whole cores, and smaller sample collections in refrigerated, freezing, and ambient temperatures, as recommended by their purpose for research and preservation needs. These outdoor vans became collectively known as the “Freezer Farm,” and it was from this collection of units that the need to create and maintain order within the samples and storage administered by the USGS came.

The Samples Repository was officially formed in 2002 to formally catalog and organize these geologic, geochemical, and biological collections, and establish protocols for their preservation and access. Since its inception, the Repository has seen developments in collections management strategies, as well as the construction of the current storage facility, the K.O. Emery Geotechnical Wing.


Figure 3. The K.O. Emery Geotechnical Wing. [Larger version]

Take a look around our website to see our collections management and sample distribution policies, peruse the catalog, and make a request.

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