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Core Preparation and Analysis Laboratory and Sample Repositories

Learn about the sediment core lab and refrigerated sample repositories at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

We process and analyze sediment cores collected from coastal, fluvial, estuarine, lacustrine, and marine environments. We have a Geotek core splitter, shrink wrap system, and a wide assortment of sampling tools and balances for core sample preparation and analysis. We store the cores, along with other sediment samples, in a large, walk-in refrigerated room that features library-style rolling shelving for efficient storage and easy access to all cores. All samples are cataloged and cross-referenced to their field activity ID, which provides the metadata about the samples.

 

A woman pushes a cart with a long, narrow tube on it, in through a large metal door.
We take most of the sediment cores and samples, collected from the field, straight from the loading dock into a large walk-in refrigerator (about 780 square feet). There, samples are kept at the international core curation standard of 4° C plus or minus 2° C. Each core and sample must be labeled with an identifier and metadata, which follows the material through processing and analysis.
A woman wearing a lab coat lifts a long thin sediment core from a shelf.
In the cold storage room at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center, we store cores on large racks that can hold about 4,500 full sized cores or D-tubes with split cores, up to 1.5 meters long.
A woman wearing a lab coat and rubber gloves holds a rotating handle on the wall of a rack that runs on a track.
These track-mounted racks pack together to save space. Cranking a handle moves the aisle between racks for core access.
A woman wearing a lab coat wheels a tray, with a sediment core resting on top, out through a big metal door.
The back door of the refrigerator connects to our core and sample processing labs.
A woman, wearing a lab coat and protective equipment in a laboratory, holds a core in a device that will split the core in half.
In the core lab, the Geotek core splitter cuts sediment cores in half lengthwise using oscillating saws and a wire cutter.

News

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Searching for Evidence of Past Tsunamis in Sediment Cores

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New evidence for a roughly 600-year-old tsunami impacting the Hawaiian Islands

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South Korean Geoscientists Visit the USGS in Menlo Park and Santa Cruz, California

Publications

Marine paleoseismic evidence for seismic and aseismic slip along the Hayward-Rodgers Creek fault system in northern San Pablo Bay

Distinguishing between seismic and aseismic fault slip in the geologic record is difficult, yet fundamental to estimating the seismic potential of faults and the likelihood of multi-fault ruptures. We integrated chirp sub-bottom imaging with targeted cross-fault coring and core analyses of sedimentary proxy data to characterize vertical deformation and slip behavior within an extensional fault ben

Late Holocene environmental change in Celestun Lagoon, Yucatan, Mexico

Epikarst estuary response to hydroclimate change remains poorly understood, despite the well-studied link between climate and karst groundwater aquifers. The influence of sea-level rise and coastal geomorphic change on these estuaries obscures climate signals, thus requiring careful development of paleoenvironmental histories to interpret the paleoclimate archives. We used foraminifera assemblages

California deepwater investigations and groundtruthing (Cal DIG) I: Fault and shallow geohazard analysis offshore Morro Bay

The California Deepwater Investigations and Groundtruthing (Cal DIG) I project focuses on the potential seafloor hazards and impacts of alternative energy infrastructure in the outer continental shelf region offshore of south-central California. This is one of three reports covering a single study area located between Monterey and Point Conception, California in federal waters outside of the State

Science

Cascadia Subduction Zone Marine Geohazards

Societal Issue: Uncertainty related to rupture extent, slip distribution, and recurrence of past subduction megathrust earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest (northern CA, OR, WA, and southern BC) leads to ambiguity in earthquake and tsunami hazard assessments and hinders our ability to prepare for future events.
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Cascadia Subduction Zone Marine Geohazards

Societal Issue: Uncertainty related to rupture extent, slip distribution, and recurrence of past subduction megathrust earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest (northern CA, OR, WA, and southern BC) leads to ambiguity in earthquake and tsunami hazard assessments and hinders our ability to prepare for future events.
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Hazards: EXPRESS

Marine geohazards including earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis lie offshore of densely populated areas of California, Oregon, and Washington. One goal of EXPRESS is to improve assessments of these hazards.
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Hazards: EXPRESS

Marine geohazards including earthquakes, landslides, and tsunamis lie offshore of densely populated areas of California, Oregon, and Washington. One goal of EXPRESS is to improve assessments of these hazards.
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U.S. West Coast and Alaska Marine Geohazards

Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events beneath the ocean that threaten coastal populations. Such underwater hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis.
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U.S. West Coast and Alaska Marine Geohazards

Marine geohazards are sudden and extreme events beneath the ocean that threaten coastal populations. Such underwater hazards include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and tsunamis.
Learn More