Glossary of Terms
Many of the following terms and definitions were taken or modified from
the National Research Council, Committee on the Preservation of Geoscience Data and Collections (2002). For a more comprehensive listing of terminology relating to geological archives, consulting this reference is suggested.
ACCESSION The process by which a sample is formally entered into a collection. Accession includes listing the specimen in the collection’s permanent inventory.
ALTERATIONS Any changes to the physical integrity of samples due to purposeful means.
AMBIENT TEMPERATURE A term describing the temperature of samples to be the same as the current atmospheric temperature. The samples are neither refrigerated, nor frozen. Such samples are usually desiccated and preserved from rot and other harmful occurrences that freezing and refrigeration help prevent.
BUCKY DECIMAL SYSTEM A location identification number created by the WHSC’s curator to identify the specific location of a sample in storage. This number is a combination of a cold box identifier, storage unit identifier and shelf identifier.
CHAIN OF CUSTODY A condition where outside researchers may obtain portions of samples collected by the WHSC for their own use without the condition of returning the samples (see Loan).
CORE A long cylindrical sample of sediment or rock (usually 2 inches or more in diameter) taken of sediments using gravity corers, piston corers, or vibracores, or of rock by means of a diamond core drill.
COLLECTIONS MANAGEMENT A set of policies and protocol relating to the way and manner in which the collections should be organized and cared for.
COLLECTION A group of objects organized for ready access and study. Geoscience collections are groupings of individual geoscience items that may be related by sample type, geographic location, or scientific or applied interests. Museum collections commonly contain specimens of local interest or samples that reflect the research interests of curators of the museum.
COLLECTIONS COMMITTEE An organized group of scientists and technicians from the Woods Hole Science Center who work with samples and decides the future of samples in the WHSC’s sample archive.
DEACCESSION The procedure by which a sample is formally and permanently removed from a collection.
DESICCATION The process of dehydration.
DISPOSITION The ultimate removal of samples from the collection. Usually refers to the disposal of samples due to lack of integrity or exhaustion.
FIELD ACTIVITY NUMBER A five-digit number assigned to a specific field activity by the data librarian. This number is used to catalog field reports, data sets, and physical samples for each activity.
GEOSCIENCE(S) A short term for the collective subdisciplines of the geological (solid Earth) sciences, including engineering geology, geobiology, geochemistry, geohydrology, geophysics, sedimentology, and stratigraphy, among others.
LOAN Samples distributed to facilities, institutions and researchers outside the WHSC with the intent that the samples should be returned after a set time in a reasonable condition to accommodate future study by other parties.
METADATA Term used to describe a dataset and bring value to the scientific data represented. Examples include collecting conditions, instrumentation parameters, location, depth, range, and the names of the analysts and techniques they employed.
PLATFORM Any vessel or rig used as a vehicle for sampling equipment. A platform can be ocean-going or terrestrial.
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR The researcher responsible for the collection of the samples and the research performed on them.
SAMPLE NUMBER Any identifier assigned to a specific sample during a field activity.
TEAM CHIEF SCIENTIST The WHSC's Center Chief, responsible for all final decisions regarding sample fates.