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Gulf Coast Repository (GCR)

Notice IODP sample requests are still being accepted but completion and shipment of requests may be delayed due to COVID-19. For the current status of each IODP core repository, contact the repository curator.

Bremen Core Repository:
Gulf Coast Repository:
Rutgers/NJGS Repository:
Kochi Core Center:

The International Ocean Discovery Program’s (IODP) Gulf Coast Repository (GCR) is located in the Research Park on the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, Texas. This repository stores DSDP, ODP, and IODP cores from the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, and the Southern Ocean. A satellite repository at Rutgers University houses New Jersey/Delaware land cores 150X and 174AX.

The GCR houses over 100 kilometers of core in approximately 15,000 square feet of refrigerated space. In addition, the GCR stores thin section, smear slide, and residue collections, which are available to scientists for study.

Available for download is the first of several presentations on the content of the GCR Core Collection:

The GCR Collection: From Alaska to Antarctica, and from Martinique to Macquarie Ridge: Part 1, January 2013 (PDF, 48MB)

The GCR also houses the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD) Core Collection. SAFOD core images can be found on the SAFOD CoreViewer. For information on sampling this collection please contact the GCR Curator at

Another function of the GCR is to host tours and to promote the educational use of the cores. The repository maintains close links with the College of Geosciences and hosts a historical geology course each year.

Obtaining Samples

One of the main functions of the GCR is to provide a service to the international scientific community. Scientists engaged in geoscience research are welcome to schedule a visit to the GCR to study or sample core, or to request samples to be taken and shipped by GCR staff. Visitors have at their disposal three computerized sampling stations, photographic equipment, and a microscope lab.

Scientists may obtain samples by submitting a sample request form. Please familiarize yourself with the IODP sample and data obligations policy before requesting samples.

Please contact us before you make travel arrangements to ensure that the GCR is available and prepared for your visit:

Gulf Coast Repository
1000 Discovery Drive
Texas A&M University
College Station TX 77845
Phone: (979) 845-5056
Fax: (979) 845-1303

Gulf Coast Repository Practices and Procedures

Core Storage:

  • Cores are stored in one of four reefers (refrigerated storage areas) currently in operation at the Gulf Coast Repository. The reefers are maintained at a temperature of 40°F (4.4°C). An alarm is given if the temperature in any part of the reefer reaches 47°F. The alarm is received by Curatorial staff and Facilities Maintenance staff, at which point technicians are immediately dispatched to rectify the problem.
  • Cores in the repository are routinely stored in plastic d-tubes housed in galvanized racks. Each rack holds 720 d-tubes. The lower halves of the core racks are populated with working halves, while the upper sections hold the corresponding archive halves.
  • Once received from the ship and prior to racking, sediment cores are shrink wrapped in 1 mm thick BDF 2001 shrink film, which is a multilayer barrier film often used in the food industry. The film has excellent water vapor and oxygen transmission rates, and is transparent making it an good choice for core preservation.
  • Hard rock cores are received from the ship already wrapped in a 4 mm thick shrink film. The film is used to hold rock pieces in place in the d-tube during transit and storage.

Core Sampling Process and Procedure:

  • When filling a sample request cores are picked from their locations in the reefer and loaded onto small carts which are then taken into the laboratory area. Each core section to be sampled is removed from its d-tube, and if it’s a sediment section unwrapped, and placed on a specially designed core table. Note: Nitrile powder free gloves are available for use by the core sampler.
  • When a sample is removed from the core, the void left behind is filled with a pre-cut virgin ethafoam spacer that helps maintain the shape and form of the remaining core material.
  • Sampled cores are returned to their d-tubes and cart, and re-wrapped in shrink film before being returned to their locations in the reefers.
  • If sampling of the cores is not completed by close of business the cart is returned to the reefer for overnight storage. Cores are not left out in the lab overnight.
  • Each sample taken from a core is entered into the Oracle database, labeled, bagged, and sealed before shipping. Where and when possible sampled core sections are scanned to show accurately their condition and level of depletion. Images are archived online at
  • If cores are required for display purposes and are left exposed on the core tables for any length of time, they are kept wrapped unless a special request is made in which case they are opened for a short viewing period and then re-wrapped immediately.

Sample Residues:

  • Sample residues returned from the ship are preserved in red plastic tote boxes, labeled according to Expedition and stored on special shelving in one of the reefers.

Returned Samples:

  • Returned samples are sorted by Expedition and stored in gray plastic tote boxes in one of the reefers.

Frozen Microbiology Samples:

  • Frozen MBIO samples are shipped directly to the repository from the ship. The samples are packed in coolers on dry ice. As soon as they are received, the samples are inventoried and transferred to a –86°C chest freezer. After the moratorium, information detailing the location of the samples is published on-line and made available at
  • In case of a power outage the freezers are connected to the IODP back-up generator. If a mechanical failure occurs the freezers have audible temperature alarms that sound when the temperature exceeds –80°C. The freezers are also attached to a “sensa-phone system” that notifies the curatorial staff, by telephone, of a low temperature situation. An empty freezer is maintained at –86°C temperature in case samples need to be quickly transferred from a defective freezer.

Thin Sections:

  • Thin sections are returned to the repository directly from the ship. Once at the GCR they are inventoried and stored in purpose built cabinets.
  • The thin sections are available to scientists on loan for a period of 1 year under the terms of an executed loan agreement.
  • The repository has the capability to image the thin sections and a library of thin section images is available online at Images from the more recent Expeditions are available in the LIMS database.

Smear Slides:

  • Smear slides are returned to the repository directly from the ship. Once at the GCR they are inventoried and stored in purpose built cabinets. The smear slides are available to scientists on loan for a period of 1 year under the terms of an executed loan agreement.


  • U-channels are routinely taken post cruise, at the repository, by the requestor.
  • Once the u-channel is cut from the core a pre-cut virgin etha-foam spacer is used to fill the void.
  • The u-channels are packed in cardboard boxes prior to shipping. Wooden (wood approved for international shipping) shipping crates are specially made to house 4–6 boxes each in order to protect the fragile u-channels during shipping and facilitate their safe return to the repository.
  • In order to receive the u-channels a loan agreement is executed by the requestor accepting a loan term of 1 year and agreeing to keep the cores, for the duration of the loan, in a suitable refrigerated storage facility.
  • No sub-sampling is permitted from the u-channels unless by prior agreement.
  • When u-channels are returned to the GCR by the investigator they are stored in one of the core reefers.

Core Loans:

  • Core loans may be requested by individuals for a number of reasons including XRF and CT scanning; museum displays; educational request; etc.The terms of core loans vary by the terms and conditions of each specific request and must be approved by the Curator.

IODP Sample and Data Policies

GCR Resources

  • Cores stored at the GCR:
    DSDP Legs: 1, 4 (Sites 29–31), 5, 6 (Sites 44–52, 55–59), 7–10, 15–18, 19 (Sites 183, 192–193), 20, 21 (Site 204), 28 (Sites 268–274), 29 (Sites 275–279), 30 (Sites 288–289), 32–35, 54–55, 61–70, 77, 83–86, 88–89, 90 (Site 594), 91–92, 96
    ODP Legs: 100, 111–113, 119 (Sites 739–744), 124 (Site 777), 129, 130, 132 (Site 810), 136–148, 165, 167–170, 178, 181, 185, 188, 191 (Site 1179), 192, 197–206
    IODP Exp: 301, 308–312, 317, 318, 320–321, 324, 327, 329, 330, 334, 335, 340, 341, 344, 345

  • Frozen (–86°) microbiology archive samples from the GCR

  • Layout, equipment, and supplies

  • GCR display cores
      Some of the more interesting core sections from our collection are used as display cores for visitors, tours, and classes and show the different types of material we have recovered from beneath the seafloor.

  • Core close-up photo page
      Please contact repository staff if you wish to view close-up photos of specific core intervals before visiting the GCR or submitting a sample request.

  • Photo gallery

  • SAFOD cores

  • Texas A&M University Courses

The GCR staff looks forward to your visit!