Coastal and Marine Geology Metadata and Data

USGS CMG Sample Distribution Policy

Table of Contents:

1. Introduction
2. Curatorial Authority
3. Availability of Material
3.1 Moratorium on Subsampling
3.2 Searching the Database
4. Requesting Material
5. Responsibilities
6. Who to Contact

Appendix A: Sample Request Form


1. Introduction

The United States Geological Survey maintains a collection of whole and split ocean sediment cores, core subsamples, and associated data acquired during analyses of these materials. The collection includes a range of materials primarily from the western coast of the conterminous United States but with additional samples from Alaska, Antarctica, and the south Pacific.

This library of samples is available as a resource to scientists conducting research projects of national interest.

The purpose of this document is to outline our policy and procedures governing the availability and distribution of sample materials to qualified scientists conducting research consistent with national goals and the goals of the Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center (PCMSC).

  2. Curatorial Authority

The authority for and responsibility of making decisions regarding the distribution of USGSMP samples lies with the PCMSC Core Curator, the Core Curation Steering Committee (CCSC), and the PCMSC Chief Scientist.

The CCSC consists of USGS researchers, managers, and scientists who will meet to review all requests received for sample material.

The CCSC will either approve, request additional information from the investigator, or disapprove a request in a timely fashion.

Approval of sample requests will be based in part on whether or not:

  1. The USGS principal investigator who collected the core is currently working with the samples,
  2. A USGS investigator is involved in the proposed research (not a requirement),
  3. The proposed research is part of a peer-reviewed project of national interest,
  4. The requester has the resources to complete a valid scientific investigation,
  5. The volume and number of samples is appropriate to the proposed study, and
  6. The proposed study will lead to publishable results.
  7. NOTE: Results and derived data from the proposed study must be archived in the National Geophysical Data center (NGDC) database.

For a small number of subsamples, the PCMSC Core Curator can do the sampling of material.

Subsamples will be shipped no later than three weeks following the approval of the request.
For large volume requests, the requester or his/her representative will need to visit us and do the sampling under supervision of the PCMSC Core Curator.

  3. Availability of Material

Over seven thousand ocean sediment cores and other bottom samples are stored at our facilities.

By tradition, cores are split longitudinally into working and archive halves and stored in separate D-tubes.

The working half of a core is used for destructive types of analyses (e.g., interval sampling, geotechnical sampling, radiometric dating).

The archived half of a core is preserved unsampled and is stored for subsequent non-destructive examination and analysis (e.g., descriptions, imaging, x-ray).

Samples may be taken from the archive half only under special circumstances evaluated by and acceptable to the Curatorial Authority (see above).

  3.1 Moratorium on Subsampling

To allow government researchers to meet project goals, the USGS reserves exclusive rights to collected cores for an undefined period that ends when USGS management decides to make the cores publicly available.

During this period, interested investigators are invited to discuss cooperative studies with the project scientists of the sampling field activity.
In all cases, metadata associated with the cores will be available as soon after the cruise as practical.

Metadata includes information such as Activity ID, Core ID, latitude, longitude, sampling device, length of recovery, and associated comments.

Searches for metadata are described in Section 3.2 (Searching the Databases).

3.2 Searching the Databases

Through cooperative agreement, the National Geophysical Data center (NGDC) maintains a searchable database of cores collected by the USGS.

Initial searches for core availability are best made using NGDC's search engine at URL:
To search only the USGS samples, use URL:

After specific cores of interest are identified, more detailed searches for locations and descriptions of available sample materials can be made using the USGS Coastal and Marine Geology Field Activity Information Search at URL:

The Field Activity Information Search at allows the search for material by Activity ID, Platform, Year, Location, Person, Organization, Project, Data Type, and Time Span

  4. Requesting Material
Qualified investigators should submit a request to the PCMSC Core Curator either by paper or electronic mail using the format in Appendix A (Sample Request Form).

Requests for samples should clearly state the nature of the scientific investigation and demonstrate a valid need for all materials.

All requests must include the following information

(see Appendix A):
  1. Name, title, and affiliation of the investigator,
  2. Funding agency for the proposed research,
  3. Summary of proposed research,
  4. USGS Field Activity ID
  5. (e.g., cruise ID) of the desired sample,
  6. Sample or Core ID,
  7. Subsample interval or specific subsample location(s),
  8. Volume of sample(s) needed, and
  9. Special handling or storage needs

In the event subsequent material is needed, follow-on requests should outline the progress of the study and verify the need for additional material.
A similar statement of intent should accompany samples that are requested for museum display.

  5. Responsibilities
Scientists or investigators who receive samples from the USGS are required to:

  1. Notify the USGS PCMSC Core Curator via electronic mail (or other means) that the samples have arrived safely.
  2. Submit a progress report to the PCMSC Core Curator outlining the status of the samples and/or data no later than 36 months after receiving them. A reprint of a published manuscript will fulfill this obligation.
  3. Acknowledge the USGS in all publications that use data collected from USGS samples.
  4. Provide an electronic and paper copy of all published reports, reprints, and/or derivative data to the PCMSC Core Curator where USGS samples have been used.
  5. Submit all final analytical and/or descriptive data obtained from the samples to NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information at
  6. Return all unused and/or unprocessed samples to the PCMSC Core Curator at the USGS.

Failure to meet these responsibilities will prejudice future sample requests.

  6. Who to Contact at USGS

Michael Torresan, Email:


Send email to:
Michael Torresan

Date of Request:  
Investigator's Name:  
Investigator's Title/Affiliation:  
Mailing Address:  
Shipping Address:  
Funding agency or institution:  
National Program: (if applicable)  
Collaborators: Names, affiliation, and roles  
Project summary: A brief (<200 words) summary written to be understood by a non-specialist stating why these samples a necessary to meet your project goals. State the issues to be addressed, the objectives of the project, significance to scientific questions, and facilities needed, all in terms that do not require technical translation.  
Potential impacts, major products, and timelines: Describe expected outcomes. What products will you produce to contribute to the desired outcomes? When do you expect to publish data based on these samples?  

List of Requested Material from the Repository: Page ________ of _______

Name: _________________________________________

Field Activity ID Core ID Section Half
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1Note: "Half (W/A) = working or archive half.

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