Friday, February 20, 2015

Huge collection of ore deposit samples gathering dust

In January 2002, the University of Arizona’s Dept. of Geosciences (UA) acquired the Waldemar Lindgren Ore Collection from Harvard University. The Arizona Geological Society (not the Survey) and the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society played a pivotal role by jointly providing ~$25,000 for curating and transport of the collection to Tucson. 

For 12 years the collection has been secure in a shed off campus in Tucson. The Lindgren Ore Collection – at a glance:

  • 19 shrink-wrapped wood pallets [right, photo credit, Mike Conway, AZGS]
  • ~ 840 boxes of minerals and rocks
  • ~ 10,000 hand specimens in individual trays
  • Assorted paperwork and perfunctory catalog listing the 840 boxes, generally by location.  
  • Many samples have much more specific locality and specimen descriptions written on labels in the bottom of individual trays [bottom right, photo credit, Mike Conway, AZGS]

It was originally thought that the collection included Lindgren's premier specimens from seminal investigations at the Morenci mine and others. But initial examination of the boxes when they first arrived found mostly surface grab samples and little of significance. UA professors have not used the collection for teaching and research as originally anticipated. 

So, the question is, should something be done with the collection or just let it sit in storage?  The Arizona Geological Society last night established a small committee to consider options and make recommendations.   One possibility is to open, inventory, photograph, and inventory every specimen and then evaluate the collection's usefulness.  The committee will report back in May.

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