Museum of Geology Collections

Summer 2022 Internship - Applications due April 1st, 2022

The extensive collections at the Museum of Geology includes fossil and mineral specimens, recent biological specimens, historical documents, equipment, and a library of books and maps.

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

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

The Museum holds a large collection of historical materials that date back to the founding of South Dakota Mines, including correspondence, photographs, historical artifacts, and related materials that tie the natural history of this region to the human history. The map collection holds over 7500 maps in all media and sizes, representing sites around the world. 

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


Biological Collections

Biological Collection

The Museum houses over 2000 biological specimens of plants and animals (shells, skeletons, study skins, fluid-preserved specimens, herbarium folders and other preparations). These specimens 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

The invertebrate paleontology collection includes specimens from nearly every taxon of invertebrate animal. Major collections include mollusks and arthropods of the Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway, 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

The vertebrate paleontology collection 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, most 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 U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. 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

The mineralogical collections house over 75,000 specimens. Included in the collections are the South Dakota collection containing the large diversity of minerals found in the state (particularly in the Black Hills region) and a worldwide systematic collection and hundreds of display quality specimens. Drill cuttings and cores, mineral ore samples, well logs, and other data from throughout South Dakota are also stored in this collection.

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 the Museum of Geology. 
Collections Management Policy (,pdf)
Ethics Statement and Procedures (.pdf)

Summer Hours

(beginning Memorial Day)

Monday-Saturday: 9 AM - 6 PM
Closed: Sundays and Independence Day

Winter Hours

(beginning Labor Day)

Monday-Saturday: 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM 
Closed: Sundays and Federal Holidays

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