Lamont Doherty Core Repository: Curation, Service Professional Development, Outreach
DESCRIPTION: Samples of seafloor rocks, cores, corals, hydrothermal vent fluids and chimney deposits, sediments, other materials are valuable scientific resources that are collected at great expense on scientific oceanographic expeditions. Some samples come from shallow, near-shore environments of unusual and ephemeral character and others come from mid-ocean ridges, seamounts, the abyssal plain, the roots of volcanic islands, and continental shelves. Many samples come from inaccessible places miles below the surface of the ocean and are retrieved from the seafloor by specialized robotic vehicles, human occupied submersibles, coring devices, and/or rock dredges. To preserve these valuable samples and make them available to other scientists for studies not envisioned by the original collectors, the Marine Geology and Geophysics Program of the Division of Ocean Sciences of the National Science Foundation funds four professionally run repositories that house samples collected by seagoing scientists. This award funds the curation, storage, and distribution of marine seafloor samples by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's Lamont-Doherty Core Repository. Samples in this repository are distributed upon request to scientists and educators wishing to better understand the ocean basins and continental shelves, the distribution of their resources, and how the Earth works. Over the past 3 years, this repository has distributed more than 8,000 samples of seafloor material to US and international scientists to advance our knowledge of the seafloor, ocean crust, mantle, seafloor volcanism, and the history of ocean chemistry and Earth's climate. Samples from this repository have been used to pioneer new analytical techniques and provide important insights into seafloor, continental margin, and sub-seafloor magmatic processes. This award augments a significant investment by Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory by providing financial support for the curation and distribution of samples to those interested in studying or exhibiting samples from the collection. The repository staff maintains the collection, ingests new material into the collection, collects and verifies submitted information on samples and enters these data and metadata into an online database making the collection visible to interested parties via the Internet so scientists and educators can find and request samples for research and education. In addition to the continued operation of the facility, this funding provides resources for staff to develop high resolution analytical scanning of sediment cores to enhance their utility to researchers. Broader impacts of the work include public outreach via tours for primary and secondary school groups, local community organizations, and other interested parties. It also assists in postdoctoral and graduate student training. In addition, this award provides support for an essential piece of marine geology infrastructure that enhances the reuse of material of high scientific value that is collected at great expense.