AUSTIN, Texas—Chevron Corporation announced today (Feb. 21) it is donating a treasure trove of geological cores and cuttings and $1.5 million to ensure their safekeeping to the Bureau of Economic Geology at The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences.
The donation, comprising 1,500 tons of material collected over 60 years in 120 countries, enhances the largest publicly available collection of geological cores and cuttings in the world and makes this information available for the first time to public researchers. The cash donation also bolsters the Bureau of Economic Geology’s ability to manage its growing collection.
Watch video about the geological cores to learn more about the importance of preserving them.
Chevron’s gift was commemorated at a ceremony today at the university attended by students, staff members, Chevron employees and elected officials.
“The willingness and the generosity of companies like Chevron to make the data public, to associate that with cash contributions is a huge contribution to future generations,” said Scott Tinker, director of the bureau. “It’s making something permanent that would otherwise be lost and in this country would never be collected again.”
Rock cylinders called cores and ground up bits of rock called cuttings are collected during oil and gas exploration. To geologists, they reveal Earth’s ancient history. Cores and cuttings are critical tools for understanding the location of fossil fuels, the record of Earth’s climate and biology, and the incidence of geohazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis.
“In a mature area like the United States, which has this huge historic backlog of information, there’s the risk that many of these samples will eventually be lost, yet this geologic information will be useful for all time,” said Don Paul, vice president and chief technology officer of Chevron.
Chevron selected the Bureau of Economic Geology to house the donation because of the size of its collection, the quality of its climate-controlled warehouses and searchable online database, and its Houston location at the center of the U.S. geoscience community. Unlike other institutions, the bureau also has room to grow its collections at a time when many core research facilities are struggling to remain open.
Before the gift, the collection was available only to Chevron employees. It will now be open to students, scientists, consultants and geologists.
Most of the samples, which would fill 100 semi trucks, will be stored at the Houston Research Center, one of three core research facilities the bureau operates. Beverly DeJarnett, research associate at the center, estimates that the delivery will take 12 to 14 months and will fill 20,000 square feet of the repository.
Collecting cores is expensive. Drilling a core can cost as much as $1,000 per foot. Once collected, it has to be cataloged and stored.
“It would take hundreds of millions of dollars to reacquire this material,” said DeJarnett.
Petroleum geologists use core materials to determine how porous and permeable rock is in a certain location, which can determine how easily oil and gas can be removed and at what quantities. Research with core materials has the potential to boost domestic energy production and increase energy security.
The $1.5 million accompanying the core and cuttings helps ensure the materials will be available for future generations who are likely to use data from the materials to answer questions scientists have not yet imagined.
“Time after time, we’ve seen the situation where we don’t realize what’s going to be a critical issue in the future—problems we wouldn’t have predicted—and scientists have come back to the rocks to find the answers,” said DeJarnett.
For more information contact: J.B. Bird, Jackson School of Geosciences, 512-232-9623.