Robert M. Sneider Geoscience Data Preservation Fund

Title: Robert M. Sneider Geoscience Data Preservation Fund
Publication: The Outcrop, January 2006, p. 2, 5

Dr. Robert M. “Bob” Sneider was a leader in geoscience data integration. His early days at Shell working with giants like Gus Archie and Rufus LeBlanc gave him a tremendous appreciation for the importance of incorporating rock properties with well logs and seismic and production data. Bob pioneered the concept of rock catalogs within Shell and later publicly; he incorporated detailed descriptions of cuttings into most of his old and exploration projects; he brought an understanding of modern depositional systems to bear on both reservoir and regional scale plays; and he shared his enthusiasm and knowledge via his extensive lecturing on multidisciplinary teamwork. Bob was, in the end, a teacher.

Bob saw the risk to private core and cutting collections when they began to be considered as corporate costs. He became passionate about preserving these unique data sets and working with companies and lead core curation facilities in the US such as the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology and others to transfer these unique data sets from private to public collections. Bob’s active participation in the 2002 National Research Council study Geoscience Data and Collections: National Resources in Peril and his personal year-long crusade following publication of that report ultimately led to the adoption of Section 351: Preservation of Geological and Geo-physical Data in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Geoscience data and collections have the potential to provide solutions to discovery of future oil, gas, coal reserves, groundwater, geohazards and environmental problems and provide a base for academic research. Over the past 100 years, industry has invested billions of dollars in acquiring and building geoscience data collections, and now, much of this critical geoscience data is in peril of being lost. Company mergers and acquisitions, the shift of exploration away from the United States and today’s economic environment put the preservation of geoscience data in jeopardy.

The loss of geoscience data is not a new problem. In the early 1990s the American Geological Institute (AGI) with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) initiated an effort to save geoscience data. As the problem of lost geoscience data continued, AGI asked the National Academy of Sciences to convene a committee of experts to evaluate the problem and propose a comprehensive strategy to manage it.

In 2003, Bob Sneider contributed a significant lead gift to the American Geological Institute (AGI) to establish a Geoscience Data Preservation Fund. It is only fitting that AGI, under the auspices of the AGI Foundation established the fund in living memory of Dr. Robert M. Sneider and administer it to preserve the data that remain critical to the geoscieneces and the energy future of our nation. Please consider following Bob’s lead toward preserving geoscience data.

Your financial support of the Robert M. Sneider Fund is needed to rescue, transport, save, store, and catalog cores, cuttings, and collections, geophysical well logs, seismic tapes, and production data from being lost or destroyed. Most federal and state facilities are full or essentially full. Additional storage space needs to be built and equipped. Although monies from government agencies will be requested in the future, no federal funds are immediately available to help now. State funds for geoscience data preservation are minimal or nonexistent. All contributions to the Robert M. Sneider Geoscience Data Preservation Fund are tax deductible. The selection of projects, cores to be rescued, and funding will be administered by the AGI. It is envisioned that contributions will be used to rescue data and to cover the cost of transporting data to a temporary or permanent storage. Additionally, funds will be used to cover the cost to store, catalog and curate the data for exploration and development studies to find new domestic oil, gas, and coal reserves; for groundwater, geohazard, and environmental projects; and for academic research.

This program will be a companion to AGI’s GeoTrekTM metadata catalog in order to automate the process of finding and accessing geoscience data in an electronic catalog. Funds will be solicited from petroleum and mining companies and individuals and from charitable foundations.

For additional information about the Robert M. Sneider Geoscience Data Preservation Fund, please contact Jan van Sant, Executive Director, AGI Foundation. 713-787-6767; email:, or visit