Physical Samples


Retaining physical sample metadata is crucial for preserving important sample context for future studies. Without proper metadata, unique and costly samples could lose their scientific value.

Archiving and properly curating physical samples used for paleo-scientific analysis is of the utmost importance in maintaining a culture and practice of open sharing of scientific knowledge and materials in the paleo-sciences. When original cores and proxy materials are available, the reproducibility of paleo-analyses can be tested, and material can be preserved for posterity. MARPA suggests all physical samples be archived and curated along “best practices” of The Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC). If it’s not possible to uphold SPNHC “best practices” at your own institution, MARPA encourages project leaders and principal investigators to use robust sample archive and curation services at established institutions within the paleo community, such as those offered by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, at Columbia University. 

Maintaining metadata (information about the sample itself) associated with physical samples is just as important as maintaining the samples themselves. Information about the “who, what, where, when, and how” of sample collection, as well as information about the proxy record itself (e.g., physical dimensions, temporal length, type, material, etc…) is an integral aspect of any given samples scientific utility. Retaining this information in an organized and easily retrievable format is necessary to maintain the scientific value of archived paleo-samples. To this end, MARPA recommends every proxy-sample be assigned a unique International Geo Sample Number (IGSN). IGSN are acquired through the System for Earth Sample Registration (SESAR), and require the provision of sample metadata which is digitally archived and linked to the unique sample IGSN.

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