Regulation of conservation and use of collections of the Institute of Geology at Tallinn University of Technology

AFFIRMED by decree No 28, November 14th, 2011
Alvar SOESOO, Director

1. General articles
1.1. Institute of Geology is responsible for managing one of the largest geological collections (henceforth collections) of Estonian natural heritage.
1.2. The collections encompass geological and other storage items, an archive and an electronic database. Storage items include single specimens, preparations, drill cores, and rock and sediment samples. The archive comprises publications, manuscripts and a photo archive related to collections. The electronic database contains data on storage items, archive and the related geological information.
1.3. Collections are located in specially built storage rooms in Tallinn, Ehitajate tee 5 (Tallinn University of Technology), and in Särghaua field station, Vändra Parish, Pärnu County.
1.4. The Department of collections (henceforth the Department) under the leadership of head of department and chief curator manage the collections. Museum board consisting of researchers and a representative of the institute’s administration acts as a counselling body.
1.5. The Department’s staff and researchers handling the collections are responsible for the management, documentation and preservation of the collections. When a researcher’s employment contract is terminated or when the field of research alters, the researcher will give all the collections and archive materials in his/her possession over to the Department.
1.6. The Department’s staff members working mainly with the collections possess no personal systematic geological collections in the same field.
1.7. A special permit from the director of the institute or his/her deputy is needed if the collections are intended to be used for commercial purposes.
1.8. The current regulation is equally binding for the institute’s staff, researchers from other institutions or any individuals working with the collections. The institute reserves the right to ban people or institutions from using the collections if they fail to comply with the current regulation.

2. The collections
2.1. The collections comprise single items or item groups (mineralogical or palaeontological specimens and preparations).
2.2. The acronym for denoting collection items in publications is GIT.
2.3. The material is registered, numbered and documented by collections, specimens or specimen groups according to the system established by the Department. The numbers used and all the relevant information, including the location of items in storage rooms, is registered in the collections database SARV.
2.4. Type, cited and figured specimens are stored separately from other collections and are available for comparative research by all specialists in the field.
2.5. Study of collections by guest specialists, except in case of collaborative research, needs to be arranged with the chief curator at least 14 days in advance.
2.6. Any individual from outside the institute needs a permit from the institute’s leading specialist in the field to study unpublished material. At the completion of the study, all the material is returned to the institute. If the material is lost or destroyed, a report signed by the chief curator will be issued.

3. Drill cores and samples
3.1. Drill cores, and sample residues are contained in special numbered boxes and drawers, the content and location of which is tracked in the database.
3.2. Study of drill cores is agreed in advance with the Department. Researchers fill in the appropriate form, where goals and all planned analyses for the study are stated. After completing the research, a list of samples taken is added to the form.
3.3. Samples can be taken from drill cores only in case previous samples from the given interval are lacking. Samples from drill cores need to be taken carefully, avoiding unnecessary destruction of the core, by using a slab saw. Up to half of the core’s diameter can be used for sampling. Samples and sample residues collected by the institute’s researchers are normally intended for the institute’s use only, or to be used within the frame of collaboration.
3.4. The researcher marks sampling places on the core box. In case of a large-scale study, the entire core needs to be cleaned and marked. The chief curator may prohibit taking new samples, depending on the core’s uniqueness, state, the nature of the studies or other circumstances.
3.5. Researches from other institutions must notify the chief curator or his/her deputy of their research intentions in writing at least 14 days in advance. Guest researchers work with drill core only in the presence of a staff member.
3.6. All fossil specimens deriving from the institute’s drill cores or samples are returned to the institute’s collections and in publications the institute’s catalogue numbers are used.
3.7. All data on samples are entered into the electronic database. Generally, in publications based on samples or derived information, unique sample numbers must be used (either the sample number or automatic sample ID, or IGSN number where necessary).

4. Archive
4.1. The archive of collections comprises publications, manuscript materials (field notebooks, descriptions, logs of geological sections, etc.), and hard copies of photos, films, etc. regarding storage items, geological objects or sites (e.g. outcrops) and geologists.
4.2. The Department is responsible for preserving and managing the archive. According to needs and possibilities more important archive materials are digitised and made available on-line via the collections database.
4.3. As a rule, hard copies of archive materials are intended to be used only at the institute. The original archive items, which are available also in digital form, are normally not given out for everyday use.

5. Working material of researchers
5.1. Geological material and related information that is in active use for current research projects are called working material. Such material is kept in office rooms, laboratories and a special storage area for samples.
5.2. Turning over the published material to the Department in order to keep it in the main depository a detailed list of items and, if available, corresponding publication need to be added to the material.
5.3. When numbering the individual specimens, the numbering system used in the institute must be strictly followed. Collection numbers are issued by the chief curator.
5.4. When numbering rock or sediment samples, it is recommended that researchers use an appropriate system to guarantee uniqueness of all numbers within the institute.

6. Electronic database
6.1. Geocollections database SARV is used for managing collections and the related information. Its technical development is overseen by the Department. The data is inserted and edited by the Department’s staff, as well as researchers, postgraduate students and the assisting staff.
6.2. The public interface of the database is accessible at
6.3. As a rule, the information registered in the database is for free public use. Limits in public use may emanate from (a) on-going active research, (b) possible confidentiality clause of applied research projects, (c) restrictions resulting from nature protection, etc.
6.4. Unless noted otherwise, all publicly available information in the database is distributed under the Creative Commons BY-NC licence (, which means that you are free to use, copy, distribute, transmit and adapt the data for non-commercial purposes, provided that you attribute the source and the author.
6.5. It is recommended that the following form of citation be used: Estonian geocollections database SARV, [photo/figure/data/...]: [author], Institute of Geology at TUT, [year]. Where possible, a reference or a link to a particular database entry as well as date of download should be added.
6.6. In publications, unique identifiers such as specimen numbers should be used together with the institute’s acronym GIT.

7. Loans
7.1. Loans of specimens to another institution (in rare cases an individual) for research or exhibition purposes are normally given for a one year period.
7.2. Loans are managed by the Department. Loan invoices are signed by the chief curator.
7.3. All loan items are registered beforehand in the database, numbered and usually photographed. The loan specimens cannot be mechanically or chemically processed (preparation, cutting, analyses, etc. is not allowed), unless specifically permitted and indicated in the loan invoice.
7.4. Depending on the value and condition of the specimens, and on other circumstances, the institute may decline to send the material abroad. Usually, the borrowing institution covers the expenses, including transportation and return costs.
7.5. If loan specimens are used in publications, unique numbers provided by the Department must be employed in conjunction with institutional acronym GIT.
7.6. Upon return of the material the researcher will provide the resulting publication or manuscript, if such exists.
7.7. The use of a loan for commercial purposes is only allowed if a permit to do so is obtained from the director of the institute.

8. Exchange and discarding of materials
8.1. Upon approval by the chief curator and the museum board researchers of the institute are allowed to exchange specimens with other institutions for comparative purposes.
8.2. Only unpublished and well-represented material can be yielded, the transfer of which poses no threat to Estonian science or to the completeness of the institute’s collections. It is important to consider that the scientific or educational value of the material to be exchanged is equivalent.
8.3. For scientific studies guest researchers may be given duplicates of rock and sediment samples (incl. core samples). Palaeontological material collected from the samples must be appropriately numbered and returned to the institute.
8.4. Exchange and assignment deeds are registered in the Department.
8.5. Assignment of collections of other institutions or private individuals to the institute is managed by the Department, the museum board and the director of the institute within the limits of their authority.