It’s been years in the making, but Alaska will soon have a new place to store its rocks — and not just any rocks.
The state’s new Geologic Materials Center will house cuttings and core samples from nearly every oil and gas or mining project in the state.
The facility will be open to both the industry and the public. Alaska Department of Natural Resources commissioner Joe Balash says researchers will be able to examine the samples and draw conclusions about where new finds might be located.
“The discovery of just one oil field in this state, based on information collected here, will pay for this facility and its operations many times over,” said Balash. “So it’s not just about preserving the information, it’s making an investment in our future.”
Balash says the building — a renovation of the former Sam’s Club near the Northway Mall — will hold things of interest to school groups as well as the general public.
“We’ve put out some displays in the lobby, in the entry area, and people can look at the major discoveries that have been so important to our state’s history, Swanson River, Prudhoe Bay, Fort Knox,” Balash said.
The Anchorage center replaces an aging building in Eagle River that ran out of space a long time ago. Balash says the state saved millions of dollars on the center by renovating instead of building from the ground up. In the process, he says, the state got a building that is state-of-the-art and more than three times as big.
The state will move the current collection in Eagle River to the new facility over the course of several months. The center in Anchorage will officially open to the public next spring.