• Boxes of whole cores

    The whole core collection at MGRRE can by analyzed to show mineral content and porosity.

  • Donated boxes containing cores that have suffered damage due to crushing

    These core boxes suffered severe damage from crushing before they came to the MGRRE. Staff and students will need to carefully re-box these specimens before they can be inventoried and added to the collection.

  • A team of geologists work to re-box damage cores

    Jennifer Trout, staff geologist, and graduate students Jon Garrett and Zaid Nadhim, work to re-box damaged cores.

  • A MGRRE staff member inventories donated cores

    Jennifer Trout, staff geologist at MGRRE, sorts donated cores so they can be inventoried.

  • Cores are archived.

    Recently acquired cores are laid out and footages are marked before the archiving process begins.

The Michigan Geological Repository for Research and Education at Western Michigan University archives more than 530,000 feet of cores. Most of these were drilled during oil, gas and mineral exploration. Some of these cores were also drilled for surficial mapping, engineering projects and road construction. A listing of these cores can be downloaded which shows their surface location, API number, permit number, well name, original driller’s name and core depths.  An excel spreadsheet with links to photographs of core boxes can be found here.

As part of the Michigan Geological Survey, we are mandated by legislation to collect and preserve these cores as well as other geological samples and data. We have been amassing these collections for more than 30 years. Due to industry downsizing and mergers, many of these samples were at risk of deterioration or destruction. We use these extensive collections to train geoscience students here at WMU, to conduct applied research, and to reach out to the K-12 community.

Cores provide the best direct source of data about subsurface geology. Because they are the largest subsurface samples taken (usually 4” in diameter and often hundreds of feet in depth), they show structures and rock types. When sampled, cores yield data about rock composition, porosity, permeability and resource quality. No other type of geologic sample yields so much data. That data can address a wide range of societal needs and scientific problems. Recent and on-going work at MGS/MGRRE illustrates how data have more than one life in research. Because new analytical techniques are developed, computer modeling capabilities have improved to help geoscientists better envision subsurface dynamics, and scientific concepts evolve. Although we cannot know how and when data from these cores will be used, we do know that we must preserve them because they are essential to economic development, environmental protection, land-use planning, and to insuring the quality of life for our citizens today and tomorrow.