Geoscientists, especially mineralogists and palaeontologists, are collectors with a scientific mission. Compared to laymen their motive is not the hunt for spectacular or big specimens but rather the responsibility to conserve pieces of evidence for future scientific work.
The best preserved and typical specimen of a previously unknown fossil is described and given a scientific name. These specimens m(holotypes) together with comparable pieces (syntypes) are stored at the Geological Survey of Austria. Other fossils, minerals and rocks which are the objects of illustrations in publications of the Geological Survey of Austria are equally conserved. The data base now contains more than 18,000 of these ‘types’.
The archives at Geological Survey of Austria include vast material collections of which the places of recovery often don’t exist any longer or have become inaccessible. Due to historic reasons, the majority of pieces originate from the former Austro-Hungarian monarchy. Exceptional specimens can be found in the minerals and fossils collections.
Beside the specimen collections, the Geological Survey of Austria archives are stores of knowledge for resource geology, engineering and hydrogeology. Unique features of these archives are the continuity and density of information covering the entire country. A graphics collection holds images and photographs of geologists. An office archive reaches back to 1849 and contains all letters and correspondences from the founding day of the institute until today. Valuable documents record the history of the organisation as well as the history of geological research in Austria.