Minerals Data at Risk

The goal of the Minerals Data and Information Rescue in Alaska (MDIRA) or Minerals Data at Risk project is to recover and make easily available, the full body of Alaska mineral information through a coordinated system that provides efficient access or guides to all mineral-related files, documents and physical samples held in the public domain. This body of information includes geologic framework data, now out of print, as well as data collections from agency and private sector geologists that was never published, geophysical data, state and federal mining claim information, geochemical data sets, and M.S.C. and Ph.D. dissertations on Alaska geology that exist in the obscurity of university libraries across the nation.

The (MDIRA) project was implemented in response to recognition of the importance of the Alaska subcontinent’s mineral resources to the nation and a concern that decades of important Alaskan minerals information were being lost, or were in imminent danger of being lost. Much information has become unavailable to the public, industry and even the government agencies that generated it. Out of print government publications are continuously lost through the attrition of unreturned loans or theft. Voluminous files of analytical data that are hard to use or hard to access are ignored in spite of their relevance and value, because professionals do not have the time to recover them and convert them to digital format. Recent downsizing of both federal and state geologic agencies has left large volumes of data stranded in unorganized files that, almost surely, will be disposed of as institutional memory of their significance is lost through continued personnel attrition.

Through special appropriations, the USGS, state, and the BLM has rescued and made much information available. Specifically, libraries have been improved by cataloging, increasing collections, and publishing a new guidebook of minerals information. Physical sample storage has been improved by increasing the storage capacity of the Alaska Geologic Materials Center in Eagle River. Databases have been improved by standardizing and making available many geologic datasets. Data delivery aspects continue to be improved. Currently, focus is on a web-accessible interagency bibliographic database.

The key components of the project are to:

  • Preserve public data assets (i.e. mineral samples and printed information)
  • Convert reports and other written material to electronic form
  • Make internet accessible

Annual progress reports of the minerals data at risk project are provided below: