Sunday, March 22, 2015

Calling for support to reauthorize the National Geological & Geophysical Data Preservation Program

Reauthorization of the USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) is coming up in Congress and the State Geological Surveys are lining up support from geoscience data users.   We are asking our data users to add their names to a letter to Congress supporting reauthorization.

AZGS has been one of the most successful  competitors for limited federal funds.  The program requires that we put up Survey matching funds, 1 to 1 for each federal dollar.  Our focus the past four years has been digitizing the massive files we inherited from the merger of the Arizona Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources.    We have ~800,000 pages of mining and mineral resource files, 10,000 maps, and 7,500 historical photos. [See photos]  In addition to scanning and digitizing at the highest resolution the software can handle, every document and map is georeferenced and documented with extensive metadata for search and discovery.   All data are posted online for free viewing and downloading at

The letter the State Geologists are circulating says archived and heritage geological and geophysical data can yield energy and mineral discoveries worth billions of dollars and generate tens of thousands of jobs. The NGGDPP supports important Federal-State partnerships that achieve mutually beneficial goals related to the rescue and accessibility of invaluable geoscience data.

Geoscience data are critical and of immediate concern to the Nation’s economy, well-being, and security. Examples include the following:

·         Location, abundance, sustainability, and quality of water supplies
·         Domestic energy sources, such as oil, gas, coal, geothermal, and renewables; reduction of carbon emissions
·         Domestic sources of metals and critical minerals
·         Identification, mapping, and prediction of geologic hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes and landslides
·         New technological breakthroughs require re-examination of samples and data; data historically deemed insignificant may become paramount to new discoveries
·         Training the next generation of geoscientists, especially geologic mappers

All of these issues rely on the analysis of geological and geophysical samples, collections, and data that already exist. They have been acquired at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars and in most instances are irreplaceable. Regrettably, these vital materials are often in poor states of preservation and access, and in danger of permanent loss. Many of this nation’s geological data repositories, most of which are maintained by State Geological Surveys, are now at or near their storage capacity. Some have exceeded their capacity and are relying on temporary, non-climate-controlled portable storage. Expansion of these facilities requires significant capital costs. While industry and government have made substantial investments to acquire geoscience data and collections for over 150 years, volumes of expensive and arduously obtained subsurface information are currently at risk of disposal or ruin. Once these data are lost, they probably will never be replaced.

Congress established the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) through the National Energy Policy Act of 2005 [PL 109-38, Sec. 351] to address these issues. We acknowledge and support the role of the US Geological Survey (USGS) in administering this program, which includes the development and compilation of state and federal data inventories, data standards, creation of a National Digital Catalog, strategic planning, and collaboration regarding preservation techniques. This vital work can continue, however, it requires Congressional reauthorization.

We commend your efforts to strengthen our nation’s capacity to address the challenges associated with energy, as well as critical and strategic mineral resources. The reauthorization of the NGGDPP will greatly assist in these endeavors.

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