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Tour the Repository

The United States Polar Rock Repository is a new addition to the Byrd Polar Research Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.  Windows display images of Antarctica.
Image Scenes of Antarctica are printed on several windows, and the eastern side of the building has a wall of windows that reveals a metal sculpture. The sculpture shows the outline of the part of Antartica where US scientists primarily work.
Image Some rocks are displayed in the entrance hall. This sandstone slab has a trace fossil called Beaconites - these animal tracks were preserved when the rock formed. Image
Image Around the corner are an office for the curator and a workroom for the staff and visitors. The workroom has computers, a petrographic microscope with digital camera for looking at thin sections (very thin slices of rock glued to a microscope slide), a light table, and a small library of Antarctic books, journals, and reprints.

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Image Photographs of geologists who have donated their rock collections are displayed in the hall.
Another room contains rock saws and a drill press. The staff use the saws to cut off small pieces of rocks for researchers needing them for laboratory studies. The drill press is used to cut cores of rocks for paleomagnetic studies.


Samples arrive at the repository packed in wooden or cardboard boxes. The staff unpacks the boxes and organizes the rocks on large tables. The staff assigns an identification number to each sample and gathers information about the sample for the database. Each rock sample is photographed before being placed in a plastic bag labeled with the ID number, storage location number and a barcode. The bags are placed in a cardboard tray that holds about 20 to 30 samples and then stored on the shelves. Image
Image School groups visit the repository for tours and to learn about the rocks. The children can try on clothing that researchers wear in the harsh conditions of Antarctica. They can even climb into a tent and pretend they are living and working in remote parts of the world. Image

Image Some children send thank-you notes with wonderful illustrations. These are displayed on a bulletin board for all to see.