Micropaleontological Reference Centers (MRCs)
The MRCs were started by John Saunders (Basel) and Bill Riedel (Scripps) in 1975 both to improve access to comparative fossil materials, particularly for scientists outside the USA, and to provide an archive for deep sea drilling, i.e. insure that material would be available even after the original cores had been depleted. This latter concern was in part due to the very limited core recovery of DSDP holes at that time. The first samples were processed in 1976.
Four of the initially planned 5 centers were established by 1981 in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia-Pacific. The funding pattern for the MRC project was established in these first years, with money for sample preparation available only at some centers, where it was provided by local host institutions and/or special shortterm grants by national agencies. Funding of working meetings (mostly sample selection) however was provided as needed by national sections of DSDP/ODP. The planned Russian center encountered organisational difficulties and was never fully implemented. Also in 1981 the number of planned centers was raised to 8, and sample preparation was ajusted accordingly.
To improve usage of materials, Satellite centers, holding typically only single fossil groups, were introduced in 1993. By more closely linking collections to active fossil group specialists, these improved usage of collections, both by the host researcher and by visitors to his/her research group. Also in 1993 Brian Huber took over as lead curator.
In 1998/1999 several new Satellite centers were established, which increased for radiolaria and calcareous nannofossils the number of collections to 9. In 2000 Michael Knappertsbusch took over lead curator responsibility from Brian Huber.
In 2001 planning began for the transition to IODP, and an effort was started by Dave Lazarus (Berlin) to build a true database for the MRC collections. The database has been in use since 2002. An important planning meeting hosted by Brian Huber in 2004 provided the framework for a detailed proposal to IODP for future MRC activities. Dave Lazarus took over as lead curator from Michael Knappertsbusch in 2005.
IODP advisory panels approved the continuation of the MRC effort in spring 2006. Details of future work are currently in discussion.
A more detailed history of the project can be downloaded as a PDF file.