Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Maryland Geological Survey – Data Preservation Efforts

Project Details


MGS shares the concerns of other organizations engaged in geological research – that geoscience collections and data are valuable in their own right, beyond the lifetime of the projects during which they are collected or acquired, and that special efforts are required to preserve them.

To that end, MGS has applied for and received 7 successive U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP) grants to inventory its collections and data sets and to itemize its permanent collections. These collections include both physical collections (rock samples, sediment cores, etc.) and derived collections (reports, maps, aerial photographs, seismic data, etc.). More information about the NGGDPP can be found here: .

MGS also produced a Long-Range Data Preservation Plan and established a Data Preservation Advisory Panel (DPAP) composed of members of the larger geoscience community, as well as others with expertise in data preservation. From its inception, the DPAP has fostered data preservation at MGS, helping to set priorities and resolve thorny questions, endorsing proposals, and forming partnerships in applying for preservation-related grants.

Current Focus:

With the help of NGGDPP funding, MGS is currently focusing its efforts on scanning and creating metadata for its vast collection of more than 25,000 historical aerial photographs. This collection spans the 1930s – 1990s and includes:

Aerial photograph:1952 – Ocean City Inlet, Worcester County, MD
Aerial photograph
1952 – Ocean City Inlet, Worcester County, MD
  • county-wide black-and-white aerial photographs
  • black-and-white photographic enlargements of Fenwick and Assateague Islands
  • black-and-white photographic enlargements of the Rockville-Laurel area of Montgomery County
  • black-and-white aerial photo index maps
  • quadrangle-based black-and-white aerial photographs
  • black-and-white high altitude aerial photographs
  • color quadrangle aerial photographs
  • regional infrared aerial photographs

Our ultimate objective is to make the digital scans of these aerial photographs available online and to the public. This is a large task. Thankfully, several DPAP partners - Maryland State Archives (MSA) and the Johns Hopkins University (JHU) Eisenhower Library – have not only helped scan aerial photos and aerial photo index maps, but posted many series online for public access via their websites. Here are links to the aerial photography series that are currently available online:

The Johns Hopkins University - JScholarship Website

Maryland State Archives – Guide to Government Records Website

  • 1930s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s County-wide Aerial Photo Index Maps
  • 1950s and 1960s Worcester County Aerial Photo Index Maps & Associated Aerial Photographs
    * Click on “View all series for MARYLAND GEOLOGICAL SURVEY” at the top of the page.

MGS NGGDPP Grant Status:

MGS submitted its seventh NGGDPP grant application in March 2014, and was notified in June 2014 that the proposal was fully funded. The current FY2014 NGGDPP grant cycle runs from September 1, 2014 – August 31, 2015. Current grant tasks include scanning ~7,100 county-based aerial photographs and creating metadata for ~ 600 assorted aerial photographs.

MGS is currently finalizing its eighth NGGDPP grant proposal, which will be submitted to the USGS in early March 2015.

Acknowledgements & Funding:

This work has been funded by successive grants awarded in FY2008-2014 by the USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program.

MGS wishes to thank the NGGDPP, as well as members of the DPAP committee, for fostering data preservation efforts at the Survey. MGS is extremely grateful to MSA and JHU for their assistance in scanning multiple maps, aerial photographs, and publications and making many of these items available online via their websites.

More Information

For more information regarding the ongoing data preservation efforts at MGS, please contact:
Ms. Katie Offerman – 410-554-5543,
Mr. Dale Shelton – 410-554-5505,
Ms. Heather Quinn – 410-554-5522,