About the New Zealand Fossil Record File
To make best use of this scarce resource, the New Zealand Fossil Record File (FRF) was established by the New Zealand Geological Survey in 1946 as a national system for recording geographic location, geological context, and collection details of fossils, and linking this to identifications and varied interpretations obtained over the years through various projects. It had predecessors in the manuscript and typescript catalogues of collections begun in the early years of the Survey. A single form, the "Fossil Record Form", was developed and registration of localities within standard map areas promoted among New Zealand geologists, both government and non-government, with master files kept in several regional centres. Later, the scheme continued under the sponsorship of the Geological Society of New Zealand, but with a continuing involvement of the Geological Survey and its successor, the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences. A fuller description of the FRF, its history, and earlier computerisation can be found in NZ Geological Survey Reports 45 (Scott 1970) and 101 (Sudlow & Edwards 1982) and GNS Science Report 92/10 (Raine 1992).
A subcommittee of the Geological Society of New Zealand, chaired by its Convenor, provides general guidance and a forum for discussions. Day-to-day operation is the responsibility of masterfile curators at 5 regional centres operated by universities and GNS Science (see Contacts), who allocate new locality registration numbers and file recording forms for their region, and provide access to the archival paper files as required. This arrangement will continue with the move to online locality record submission.
The computer database, FRED, is managed by GNS Science and has a master curator. Database maintenance and development is currently provided through the Crown-funded "Global Change with Time" programme.
Concept of a fossil locality
Geographic scope and numbering of fossil localities
Within mainland New Zealand, new localities were originally registered by allotting sequential serial numbers within each of the yard-grid-based NZMS1 (1 inch to the mile) map sheet areas, starting at 500, e.g. N164/f500 (a collection from Terawhiti made by Alexander McKay in 1880). Serial numbers in the range 1-499 were initially reserved for collections researched from the older literature, but this practice was not universally observed and few were actually allotted. NZMS1-based files were closed in 1975 and are archived at the regional masterfile centres.
In 1975, with the advent of the metric New Zealand Map Grid and related NZMS260 (1:50000 "Infomap") map series, new localities were registered in NZMS260 map areas, with sequential serial numbers starting at 1, e.g. Q27/f1. Existing NZMS1-based FRF numbers were provided with new NZMS260-based numbers by adding 6000, 7000, 8000, or 9000 to the old serial number, depending on the quadrant of overlap of the NZMS1 and NZMS260 maps - so for example N164/f500 became Q27/f9500, whereas N164/f501 became R27/f8501. Operational NZMS260-based files are maintained at the 5 regional masterfile centres (see Contacts).
Coastal sea-floor and island localities near New Zealand that are within NZMS260 map areas which contain part of North Island, South Island, Great Barrier Island or Stewart Island, are registered in these NZMS260 files.
Special files are maintained for offshore islands in the New Zealand region and southwest Pacific, and the Ross Sea region of Antarctica, e.g. CA/f1 for a locality at Campbell Island. Special area files comprise:
These masterfiles are maintained at GNS Science in Lower Hutt, with the exception of the New Caledonia file, which is maintained at Auckland University.
Localities elsewhere in the World, including sea-floor localities outside the mainland NZMS260 file areas, are allocated file numbers based on latitude/longitude degree squares, e.g. Maui-2 drillhole at latitude 39°S, longitude 173°E is registered as SE39173/f2. This masterfile is maintained at GNS Science, Lower Hutt.
Geological timescale used in FRED
Now-obsolete chronostratigraphic units and New Zealand stage codes were used in archival records of the New Zealand Fossil Record File, and it has been necessary to provide age limits for the boundaries of these units consistent with current usage. A full table of chronostratigraphic units, codes and numerical ages can be viewed here.
The following conventions have been adopted:
Fossil Record Electronic Database - FRED
Until 2003 the computer database was available online only within GNS Science, but Non-Specific Output Funding in 2001-2003 permitted transfer from a legacy system (BASIS) to a modern database management system (Oracle), and development of a web interface for interactive public access via the GNS Science website.
From 2005, the FRST-funded National Paleontological Databases Programme enabled further development. The first steps were to institute online registration of new localities, and commence a programme of systematic data entry to capture all masterfile locality and deposited paleontological information. This was completed in early 2010. Improvements to data entry and retrieval are ongoing projects - progress will be reported in What's New.