Polar Rock Repository

Rock Repository Curator: Anne Grunow

BPCRC maintains a large, unique collection of geological samples and materials at the Polar Rock Repository.  The PRR is a national facility that houses rock sample collections from Antarctica obtained by U.S. scientists over the past 60+ years.

Dr. Anne Grunow is the curator of the Polar Rock Repository.  It is the only facility of its kind in the United States.  The facility has storage capacity of ~140,000 rock samples and more than 40,000 samples are currently catalogued. The sample collections are available for researchers, educators, and museums to use.  An online database and educational materials are available to help researchers and to educate the public about polar geology.

  • The distribution of the continents directly affects global climate.  Geologists and geophysicists study Antarctica to see where Antarctica was located over the course of Earth history. 
  • Antarctica’s central position in the supercontinent of Gondwana makes it a key piece for paleontologists in understanding how plant and animals have evolved through time.
  • Geologists collect terrestrial and marine sediments from the last several million years to understand the past climate of Antarctica.
  • Geophysicists study the rocks beneath the ice by using radar, magnetic and gravity measurements. Aeromagnetic findings suggest a very large meteorite impact site is buried beneath the ice in East Antarctica. 
  • Glaciologists look for glacial features that can provide evidence of major changes in the size of the ice sheets and in the global sea level.
  • More meteorites (rocks from space that have fallen to Earth) are found in Antarctica than from anywhere else in the world.  The meteorites allow geologists to study what asteroids, comets, the Moon and even Mars are made from.