James E. Martin Paleontology Research Laboratory (MPRL)

The MPRL was specifically constructed as a repository for Museum collections and archives and for research activities in geology and paleontology. The addition of this facility greatly enhances the ability of the Museum to fulfill its mission to explore the natural history of Earth through scientific inquiry, preserve specimens and data as a dedicated repository for scientific research, and promote understanding of geoscience through outreach.

The 33,000-square-foot MPRL provides a safe, environmentally-controlled location for the Museum of Geology’s fossil, geological, and archival collections, protecting this rich and scientifically significant heritage. The SDSM&T Museum has been a repository of geologic and paleontologic specimens since the inception of the institution and currently holds over 500,000 specimens. Collections include mineralogy/petrology, paleobotany, invertebrate paleontology, micropaleontology, biology, and vertebrate paleontology, as well as a library and archives.

The MPRL houses geochemistry, preparation, and fabrication laboratories for preparation, preservation, and conservation of fossils as well as for other types of geologic and paleontologic research. These resources allow faculty members and students to pursue geologic and interdisciplinary studies, from morphometric analysis to isotope and trace element sample preparation.

The MPRL also greatly enhances research-intensive educational opportunities for undergraduate and graduate curricula in the Department of Geology & Geological Engineering, including the only MS degree in Paleontology in the nation.

LEED logoThe MPRL building itself also is notable. As stewards of the geologic past, creating a sustainable building was an important objective, one that guided all design decisions from wall materials to landscaping.  As a result the MPRL became the first state-owned building in South Dakota to receive a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold rating from the U.S. Green Business Council. The MPRL is a regional repository for geology and paleontology collections and data for a number of Federal, tribal and state agencies, and is built to provide high-quality care and security.

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