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The AAPG/Datapages Combined Publications Database

GCAGS Transactions


Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Transactions Vol. 58 (2008), Pages 699-699

ABSTRACT: The Rio Bravo Collection: Preserving a Unique Collection for Future Research in the Gulf Coast Section

Ann Molineux

Non-vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory, Texas Natural Science Center, University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Rd., Austin, Texas 78758


The Rio Bravo Oil Company collection is a unique assemblage of fossil specimens collected over a hundred years ago. Specimens were collected under the direction of E.

T. Dumble initially as part of the third geological survey of Texas in 1897, and later under the auspices of the Rio Bravo Oil Company, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Company. About 1000 collection localities were in Texas and Mexico, sampling Cretaceous and Tertiary sections. The collectors included such classic geologists as R. A. Penrose, the founder of the Geological Society of America (GSA). These fossils still form an important basis for current research. The original collection was loaned to the Bureau of Economic Geology in 1931, and then the 40,000 specimens were given to them in 1963. The collection was then transferred to the Texas Memorial Museum during the 1980s and is now part of the Non-vertebrate Paleontology Collections. These great paleontological archives are not endless boxes of dusty specimens, undocumented and seldom studied. They are a resource that can be accessed digitally, that can be used globally, and that form a record of life throughout this portion of geologic time, providing vital perspective for changes in environment, climate, and biodiversity within the Gulf Coast. These specimens and related data are now accessible for future research with new insights and analytical techniques.

Preventing loss or deterioration of these valuable specimens has required extensive care, rigorous inventory of specimens, and cataloguing of provenance data, combined with the rehousing of specimens in improved cabinets and the transfer of sensitive specimens to better climate-controlled conditions. One of the most useful resources for achieving appropriate specific care and preservation of specimens in this Rio Bravo collection and other natural history collections is the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC).

Copyright © 2008, The Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies. All Rights Reserved.