Museum of Geology Collections

The extensive collections of the Museum of Geology encompass fossil and mineral specimens from around the world, historical documents, photographs, equipment, Recent biological specimens, and a library of books and maps. Museum of Geology collections management policy emphasizes the use of collections for both research and education.

A publicly available version of collections records digitized to date is available through the Integrated Digitized Biocollections (iDigBio) Portal at

Major Collections:

Bump/Macdonald Library

Geology Library

Bump/Macdonald Library
The Bump/Macdonald Library holds over 5000 books and reprints on a wide range of subjects, including geology, biology, paleontology, mineralogy and museum studies. The library does not provide circulation services, but on-site use of library materials can be arranged with prior approval.

Image: Stacks in the Bump/Macdonald Library, photo from Laurie Anderson


Doyle Maps and Archives

Geology Archives

Frank M. and Gertrude R. Doyle
Maps and Archives
The Museum holds a large collection of historical materials that date back to the founding of SD Mines, including correspondence, photographs, historical artifacts, and related materials that tie the natural history of this region to the human history. Of particular importance are the map collections, which hold over 7500 maps in all media and sizes, representing sites around the world. These are being curated in conjunction with the GIS program in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering.

Image: Geologic Maps in Museum Archives, photo from Laurie Anderson


Biological Collections

Biological Collection

 Biological Collections
Comparative collections of modern organisms are important in paleontologic analyses. The Museum houses over 2000 biological specimens of plants and animals (shells, skeletons, study skins, fluid-preserved specimens, herbarium folders and other preparations). These are used for research and teaching as well as for comparative studies.

Image: Collections under curation in Biological Collections, photo from Laurie Anderson


Paleobotany Collections


Paleobotany Collections
The Museum's paleobotany collection contains several hundred fossil plant specimens primarily of Jurassic to late Pleistocene age. The most important specimens are ~120 million-year-old fossil cycads from the Dakota Sandstone near Edgemont, South Dakota, one of the largest collections from the former Fossil Cycad National Monument. Other fossils include leaves, seeds, and petrified wood. Paleobotany also houses a modern herbarium with 200 plant folders, representing Black Hills and Badlands flora.

Image: Fossil cycads in Paleobotany Collections, photo from Laurie Anderson


Invertebrate Paleontology Collections

Invertebrate Collection

Invertebrate Paleontology Collections
Invertebrate Paleontology Collections include specimens from nearly every taxon of invertebrate animal. Major collections include, but are not limited to, mollusks and arthropods of the Cretaceous Western Interior, insects of the Western Interior Cenozoic, Cenozoic marine mollusks of the U.S. Gulf and Atlantic Coastal Plains as well as the Paris Basin, worldwide marine and freshwater Recent mollusks, and Gulf Coast Tertiary Foraminifera.

Image: Fossil mollusks housed in the Intervertebrate Collections, photo from Laurie Anderson


Vertebrate Paleontology Collections

Vertebrate Collection

Vertebrate Paleontology Collections The vertebrate paleontology collections consists of approximately 500,000 individual specimens ranging in age from Ordovician through Pleistocene. Although the age range of the collection spans a time frame of nearly 400 million years, the majority of specimens are derived from deposits of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway and the Eocene-Oligocene of the White River Group in the northern Great Plains. Other significant holdings include specimens from Miocene deposits of the northern Great Plains, Pleistocene vertebrates from central Oregon, and Cretaceous marine fossils from Antarctica. Collections include holdings of the Museum proper as well as repository collections from the National Park Service, the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Army Corps of Engineers, and several tribal agencies.

Image: Tail section of nearly complete Cretaceous mosasaur skeleton, photo from Laurie Anderson


Mineralogical Collections

Mineral Samples

Mineralogical Collections
The Mineralogical Collections house over 75,000 specimens. Included in the collections are four type mineral specimens, the South Dakota collection containing the large diversity of minerals found in the state (particularly in the Black Hills), a worldwide systematic collection and hundreds of display quality specimens. In addition, drill cuttings and cores, well logs and other data from throughout South Dakota, as well as mineral ore samples, are being transferred from the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering to the Museum of Geology. The collection's main strength is its potential as a dynamic working collection to promote and advance the mineralogical sciences through education and research.

Image: (top) Sincosite-Ross Hannibal Mine, Lead, SD, photo from Tom Loomis
 Image: (bottom) Type specimen Tiptopite - Tip Top Mine, Custer County, SD, photo from Tom Loomis

Researchers interested in more information on museum holdings, arranging for a loan, or scheduling a visit should contact Sally Y. Shelton.

Collections Management Policy (,pdf)
Ethics Statement and Procedures (.pdf)

The James E. Martin Paleontology Research Laboratory is a research component of the SD Mines Museum of Geology.  It is not available for public tours.

PRL CTA 2 photos