Seafloor Samples Laboratory Woods Hole Oceanographic Insitution


Related Links
DSRV Alvin

NGDC Core Curators File
piston core
Piston core from the Red Sea Hot Brines region.
The Seafloor Samples Laboratory of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution is located in the McLean Laboratory on WHOI’s Quissett Campus. Our collection contains more than 14,000 archived marine geological samples that have been carefully recovered from the seabed. The inventory includes long, stratified sediment cores, rock dredges, surface grabs and samples collected by DSRV Alvin.

The archive facility was established more than thirty years ago by members of the Geology and Geophysics department led by Dr. Dave A. Johnson, but contains material from the earliest days of WHOI’s seagoing sampling programs. The extent of the collection is global and the 100’s of tons of material that we currently archive at McLean have allowed scientists from diverse disciplines to undertake research on topics as varied as continental drift, climate change, mass extinctions, and the processes that lead to the evolution of chemosynthetic communities.

Each of the seafloor samples is annotated with detailed ‘station’ data and carefully archived (see image below for example). Standardized procedures are applied while sediment cores, dredges and Alvin samples are described. This allows us to digitize the descriptive data along with the station definition information and then employ comprehensive search software [go to SEDCORE 2000 page] to distill samples from the inventory by specifying values for many different parameters. In addition, the NGDC Core Curators File lists all of the samples in the Woods Hole collection among the 100,000 in its data base. NGDC acts much like a clearing house for information and referrals and with their on line tools you can search the nations marine geological sample resources.

SC2000 example

All the samples in the WHOI collection are classified in specific subgroups [cruises] and are related within that subgroup by the scientific goals that a particular expedition set out to accomplish. The scientists who set those goals to solve a particular problem, and ventured out to collect the samples, have initial proprietary use of the recovered material. However, once the primary analysis period is over -- usually 2 years - the samples become part of the main collection and are available for specified research to qualified applicants. The entire body of samples can and has been recombined by viewing through a filter defined by a formula of parameters that specifies a new investigator’s particular research objectives. This ‘recycling’ process is fundamental to the way we operate the facility, and we encourage those who might exploit this invaluable resource with our open sample distribution policy. [ Click for pdf version of sample distribution policy]

The WHOI Seafloor Samples collection is a vast library of material from the bottom of the sea. The contents of our library fulfill not only the research goals of those individuals who initially collected the marine geological samples but also those investigators from the community at large who choose to undertake new or continuing work by selecting from and utilizing the resources we preserve.

Support for the lab is provided by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Office of Naval Research, and the United States Geological Survey [Center for Coastal Geology and Regional Studies].

To discuss sample requests, station data details or simply get more information about the laboratory please contact or or call 508-289-2466.