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Moving on: Progress with the USGS collections

by Erica Clites

USGS cabinets are gone
Two long rows of cabinets containing the USGS collection of fossils have been removed from the museum's Richmond facility because all the fossils have been rehoused in new cabinets. The marks on the floor indicate where the two rows of cabinets used to be. Photo by Erica Clites.
After three years of working on the NSF-funded USGS collections rehousing project, we are nearing the end, but in reality, curation will continue as the collection gets used and properly stored. We are finished rehousing almost 90% of the entire collection, with 52 of the 60 new steel cabinets and drawers filled with fossils! Undergraduate student assistants (Gina Hwang and Alexis Williams) will continue to organize the remaining Pleistocene and Holocene specimens this summer. Seventy empty original cabinets were moved out recently to make space for cabinets of McKittrick fossils that will be moved to our secure, off-site facility in Richmond this summer. Other students who assisted with the project this year included: Faris Katkhuda, Dianne Quiroz, James Saulsbury, Monica Theibault as well as recent graduate Michael Reyes.

At least a third of the UCMP-USGS collection at our off-site museum collections facility is Miocene in age. For most of the Cenozoic epochs, fossils from the different formations were separated when UCMP received the collection. For the Miocene, we have retained the original age assignments of early, middle or late Miocene. Museum professionals never want to lose any information when re-curating a collection. The decision to keep these original age designations was made with the goal to organize the collection so it is more useful to researchers. Dividing the localities and curating the fossils within at this finer scale required additional time and attention, but will be worth it according to invertebrate paleontologists familiar with the collection.

During the 2014-15 school year, UC undergraduate research assistants, Ken Gourley, Kara James, Joan Li and Holly Seyler helped photograph and rehouse Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossils. A new zooming feature in CalPhotos allows the user to upload high resolution versions of all project photos. Check it out for yourself on the CalPhotos site! We also have a working draft of the Citizen Science module and soon you will be able to help us identify and count fossils from each USGS locality! Details to follow on future blog posts on the UCMP website.