When it comes time to clean out the basement, people usually throw out the "old" stuff. After all, it's been in a basement untouched for more than 30 years, how much could it really be worth?
To some in the Texas Panhandle petroleum community, the treasures that lingered in the basement of the Kilgore Science Building were worth a lot.
In mid-January, Vaughn Nelson, graduate dean at West Texas A&M University, ordered the basement of the Kilgore Science Building to be cleared out.
Yes, there was a lot of data boxed up in the basement. Nelson had attempted to find a home for the data, but without success. His next option? Send it to a landfill.
What lingered in the basement was a statistical geologist's dream: A wealth of data, consisting of nine filing cabinets, more than 50 boxes of paper records and approximately 25 tons of cuttings and core samples were found.
"Evidently, the data were donated to the university in the period between 1960-1965, when the Pure Oil, Humble, Sinclair and Cities closed their Texas Panhandle operations," remarked Tony Kolodziej, consulting geologist, AAPG member and spearhead in the preservation of the prized data.
People close to the project started talking, and the question was obvious: What can you do to save more than 25 tons of logs, drilling reports, natural gas well tests, and core and rock samples?
That was the question on the mind of Gerald Schlutz, professor and chair of geology at West Texas A&M University. His first move was to consult with Kolodziej to find a suitable home for the data.
Kolodziej and George Johnson, of Sunshine Exploration, evaluated the data and tried to come up with a way to find a new home for it.
"It would be a shame for all of this data to just be trashed and lost forever," Kolodziej said. "Too much of that is already happening across the country."
At the time the data was donated, the basement was a cistern, Kolodziej said, so the data was lowered into the basement through a hole in the floor. Soon afterwards, a steep staircase was built to the basement.
The steep staircase proved to be a chore in removing the data.
First, the school's dean supplied student workers who brought the paper data up to ground level.
Then in February, Kolodziej, Johnson, Schlutz and professor Joseph Zapata, working with the geology club, placed the dusty boxes of paper on a trailer headed for the Panhandle Geology Log Library in Amarillo, Texas.
The core and rock samples will be stored in available space on the campus of Texas State Technical Institute (TSTI) near the old Amarillo airbase. TSTI is under the control of Amarillo College.
The library maintains oil and gas well information from the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma, southwestern Kansas and southeastern Colorado.
Today, the work continues, with the rock data currently being moved out of the basement onto skids.
Dean Nelson has hired "football jocks to carry the samples up to the skids," Kolodziej laughed. "Not only are they building their calf muscles, but they are getting paid for it."
Amarillo College's Truck Driving Academy has volunteered to pick up the skids and transport them to the space at TSTI. This helps both groups: The data gets transported, and the students of the Academy get extra training.
"Barring unforeseen problems," Kolodziej said, "we hope to have the complete move finished by summer."
Kolodziej is loathe to take much credit for spearheading the salvaging campaign. One of the best aspects of the project, he said, is providing a model that others can follow.
"If nothing else," he said, "our solution shows that there are creative ways to save and preserve valuable and historical data."