Conservation and Survey Division made accessing materials easier

Conservation and Survey Division made accessing materials easier

This 10-foot section of core is a part of a nearly 500-foot-deep core, drilled by the Conservation and Survey as part of a CSD mapping program in eastern Cherry County during 2015-2016. Deep cores drilled during this study are the first of their kind for
This 10-foot section of core is a part of a nearly 500-foot-deep core, drilled by the Conservation and Survey as part of a CSD mapping program in eastern Cherry County during 2015-2016. Deep cores drilled during this study are the first of their kind for

The Conservation and Survey Division Geological Sample Repository has made it easier to access cuttings and core samples.

The Conservation Survey Division is the state geological survey for Nebraska and is responsible for collecting, curating and preserving a unique collection of geological sample material to use in research.

A recent upgrade to the website includes a new PDF form for samples requests that can be emailed directly to Michele Waszgis, research technician who manages CSD’s collection of geological samples at both Nebraska Hall and Mead facilities.

The repository collection contains millions of samples from CSD test-hole and well-drilling sites, Nebraska Department of Roads, Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, and some private drillers. The collection includes cores, cuttings and sample material from all 93 of Nebraska’s counties, dating back to the late 19th century when a core was drilled near present-day Capitol Beach Lake in Lincoln in the search for brines and salt deposits. Parts of that same historic core remain in the CSD collections.

Sample material can be accessed onsite or through a loan program, where samples are shipped.

“The cores have a high scientific value,” Waszgis said, “and I would like to see them used more. I would really like to see them utilized for science, for geology, for the benefit of the state of Nebraska.”

Data obtained from the samples can help inform decisions on Nebraska’s water, mineral, hydrocarbon and other natural resources, as well as assist in answering environmental, agriculture, industrial and engineering questions, the website states. Among other things, they can be used to identify water resources and aquifer properties; locate mineral deposits, including the rare earth deposits of the Elk Creek carbonatite in southeastern Nebraska; define the composition and order of layers of soil and rock below earth’s surface; and for research for theses and dissertations.

“Some cuttings are past 4,000 feet deep,” Waszgis said. “That’s almost a mile into the earth.” A core nearly 1,000 feet deep fills 99 boxes in the repository, she said.

Cores and cuttings are tested in the field for basic elements, logged, analyzed and then stored chronologically. The field logs recording this information also are available upon request.

“Each core is unique in its own right,” Waszgis said. “They were each taken from a certain spot, with a certain circumstance of how it was buried. The subsurface could be totally different 100 yards away. … Fifty years later, you can go back and discover additional geologic and scientific information outside of its original purpose. You just don’t know.”

Previously, Waszgis has had an average of five to seven requests for samples each year. Since the inception of the revised website, she’s already logged three requests and expects to surpass the previous average.

Her long-term goal is to digitize and barcode the entire collection and make it available through a single database. Right now, the search for samples is a largely manual process and background information on samples comes from three sources: the CSD test-hole and well-drilling database and the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website.