DRILL CORE AND ROCK SAMPLE COLLECTIONS FROM TERRESTRIAL IMPACT AND EXPLOSION CRATERS: Building Archival and Research Programs on Internet

DAVID J. RODDY AND EUGENE M. SHOEMAKER, U.S. Geological Survey, (Scientist Emeritus), Flagstaff, AZ 86001(droddy@iflag2.wr.usgs.gov); LEONARD H. WIKBERG III, DigitaLight Pictures and Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 86001 ( )

 

Drill core and rock sample collections from terrestrial impact and explosion craters have been assembled at a number of research facilities around the world. These collections come from over 200 confirmed and probable impact craters and a lesser number of nuclear and HE (high-energy) explosion craters. Quality and completeness of the collections and their support information range from limited to excellent. Most important though, these field materials represent an invaluable source of research data on cratering, ejecta, and effects, such as shock metamorphism, high pressure and temperature environments, complex structural deformation, extensive material re-distributions, crust and mantle interactions, extreme global climate changes, and a variety of other effects.

 

However, there is a growing awareness that much of the critical field information may be lost due to a host of archival and research problems. Of particular concern is the potential loss of the original data derived from drill core and rock sample collections as well as loss of the collections themselves. Indeed, permanent archival of these field collections and their future research accessibility have become sufficiently uncertain as to raise serious concern throughout the planetary impact cratering and explosion cratering communities. As a partial solution to these issues, we propose that the information from these field collections be assembled on a dedicated Internet website and made available for research use. In addition, the capability to continuously upgrade Internet-based information would provide an invaluable up-to-date resource for cratering research. We would hope to eventually build a website data base that characterizes, to as complete a degree as possible, all of the existing drill core and rock sample collections from impact and explosion crater sites.

 

Our concern is driven by the fact that problems associated with permanent archival and research access are rapidly becoming more numerous and serious. Prominent issues for drill core data include reductions in research funds, rising field costs, changes in planetary research goals and funding, retention of archival and related research facilities, accessibility to collection storage sites and their support data, complex physical conditions unique to each collection, an aging research community, and numerous other issues. For example, information loss occurs when drill core logs and rock sample data collected in the field are not included in the research publications. This extensive appendix-type information contains vital data supporting the field collections and is irrecoverable if not published by the original workers.

 

Many of these collections and their support data, especially for drill core, are also in jeopardy due to a number of other factors, such as high cost of shipping from field site to storage site, high costs of storage site, construction and maintenance of archival and research facilities, retention of research teams and original records, archival and maintenance of rock materials and support data, irregular exchanges with other cratering research teams, to name a few.

 

For many craters, the large volume and mass of drill core collections present unique archival problems. Such collections are commonly housed in a wide variety of physical environments, some of which provide adequate conditions for archival and research and some of which do not. The loss of a significant amount of drill core that was still in the field at a large crater in Siberia is an example of how easily some invaluable collections can be destroyed and probably never replaced. In the case of most nuclear and HE craters, their collections are housed in government facilities. Depending on the sample history, certain of these rare materials have become available for open research and therefore are valuable to a wider research community. However, their continued long-term archival and accessibility are becoming alarmingly unclear. The Defense Special Weapons Agency has recently taken positive steps to try and avert serious loss through a dedicated, large-scale, computer archival and research program.

 

As outlined above, permanent archival and future research access to both impact and explosion collections grows increasingly uncertain. We believe that these situations could be improved by organizing a global network of researchers that can interact with each other on an Internet website which is dedicated to crater archival and research issues. Such worldwide up-to-date information and cooperation could enhance current studies and help guarantee availability of research material for future workers, especially when extensive drill-core data are required. The advantage of the Internet website is its almost limitless flexibility and interactive capability.

We propose first to assemble a test set of drill core and rock sample data on the website and submit it to participating researchers for suggestions on format usability and completeness. It is our intention to complete this phase ourselves using our Meteor Crater, Flynn Creek, and Howell drill core data and our U.S. and Australian rock sample collection data. Next, researchers participating in this effort will be asked to submit their own drill core and rock sample field collection data directly into the revised format on the website. Research interactions could be immediate. Availability of such data will provide information on what actually exists in different crater and ejecta collections. Such an interactive data base can be most easily accomplished using a dedicated website with a format developed especially for this effort. Search, text editing, revision and upgrade, science conferencing, and other interactive modes will be available.

 

We envision an assemblage of data on drill cores, rock samples, and support information that characterizes each set of holdings of the participating researchers. A science-oriented, dedicated website, operated and maintained by Leonard Wikberg in Flagstaff, Arizona (http://www.digitalight.com), will be used. Researchers interested in participating would use a general (or secure) account to login and enter data as directed by the program format. Users can easily access the interactive data bases within their personal user accounts with full password protection. Upgrading the individual data bases with new information would be completed by the individual researcher. In addition, user accounts will provide web-hosting that permits them to have their own web "crater" home-page. Users can create and edit their private home-page with standard off-the-shelf web tools. There are no costs to participating researchers. Technical support will be available.

 

The program format will be designed after consultation with workers interested in assisting in its construction. We plan to have the website available to receive formatted data in mid-1998, depending on format development, and hope you all will actively participate in its early assemblage. The science-side of the website is in operation (http://www.digitalight.com).

We have discussed this test program with a number of researchers from various universities, government agencies, and the private sector. We especially appreciate their encouragement and help, as well as that from The Barringer Crater Company/Meteor Crater, F. Fitzgerald (Tennessee Flynn Creek and Howell drill core storage), C. Shoemaker (Australian impact crater samples), W. Rieff (Germany Steinheim drill core), T. Bunch (crater and ejecta sample archival, NASA), V. Gostin (Australian ejecta samples), U.S. Geological Survey / Defense Special Weapons Agency / Department of Energy, Los Alamos, and others.

 

Our goal is to help improve the archiving of cratering, ejecta, and effects data and expand exchanges of research information. We welcome suggestions and participation in this test effort on the Internet. Please address questions and suggestions to David Roddy (droddy@iflag2.wr.usgs.gov) and Leonard Wikberg III ( ).