Frequently Asked Questions

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Getting Started

At the homepage, click on the user profile button on the right hand side next to the search button. You will be redirected to the ORCID page, where you can register for an account that will give you access to SESAR as well as other EarthChem applications.

Your username is the email address with which you register or your ORCID. The first time that you log into SESAR, you will be prompted to choose your five-character namespace. All newly-created namespaces will begin with IE and be followed by 3 letters and/or numbers of your choosing. The namespace is not case sensitive. Common namespaces are initials or abbreviations of a large project.

Institutional accounts are meant for institutions and repositories that will have individuals register samples on behalf of the repository. Selected individuals will be allowed to upload samples using the institutions user code. Who has access to the institution’s user code can be modified over time. Institutional accounts are not for individuals who want other individuals to have access to their user code. See “How should I share permissions to my user code?” for more information

Sharing you user code permissions with another individual allows for that individual to Read, Edit, Create or Delete samples using your user code. You can share these permissions with someone for a specific range of dates or give them permissions for an indeterminate amount of time and then revoke the permissions when you choose. You should share your user code permissions with someone else when they are registering a sample that you own. For example, a student you mentor registering a sample you own.

From the SESAR homepage, click the option second from the left in the headerbar, LOGIN TO MYSESAR. You will see your personal SESAR page, mySESAR. Along the top of the page, you will see several tabs for navigating in your SESAR space. Click on the tab for Sample Registration.


From the Sample Registration Page, you can choose to register an individual sample or to create a batch file template. Click here for more information on Sample Registration.

After choosing to register an individual sample, you will be able to choose from two options: letting SESAR assign the IGSN, or assigning the IGSN yourself. If you choose the first option, SESAR will generate the 5-character code after your namespace (counting up in order, alphanumerically).


In a batch upload, you have the option to specify your own IGSNs into the IGSN field of the template, or leave the column blank to have them assigned by SESAR. We strongly recommend that you allow SESAR to automatically generate IGSNs for you, rather than specifying your own.

When you register your sample(s), you can now set release dates for your sample metadata. Release dates determine when sample metadata is publicly accessible and searchable. If no release dates are specified, sample metadata will be publicly accessible immediately (recommended). SESAR strongly recommends that sample metadata become available immediately upon sample registration. It is possible to delay when metadate become publicly available but it must be within two years of sample registration.

The only mandatory metadata fields are Object Type and Sample name. We recommend filling in more metadata to take advantage of search and organization capabilities of SESAR. We recommend filling in at least Collection Method and Geolocation (Lat/Lon), as these are commonly searched fields. We also recommend filling in Current Archive, Current Archive Contact or collecting scientists so users can contact the sample owner or collector if they have questions regarding the samples.

Searching Samples

The search page is accessible from the SESAR home page and from MySESAR.

If the search window is slightly shaded, it means that suggestive-search occurs for that field: Start typing and a drop-down list of possibilities will appear.

When you search for samples, icons will pop up to the left of the IGSNs of your search results. These icons are a tool for researchers who are searching for samples and indicate the presence of specific metadata for samples in the search results. These icons are also a form of certification that researchers who register samples can earn to make their samples more desirable to be clicked on in search results, by indicating that their samples have rich metadata.

Metadata Completeness Indicators
Geospatial location (Lat/Long) Geological Age  Classification Collection Method Image Attached


More Information

If you do not already have an ORCID you can register for one here.

To add an ORCID to your MySESAR account login to MySESAR and click on the “My Account” button located in the banner, third from the right. On your  “My Profile” page, there is a space to add your ORCID, located third from the top. After adding your ORCID click the “Update User Profile” button on the bottom of the page.

ORCID is replacing GeoPass as the authentication method for signing into MySESAR for individual researchers. The content of your MySESAR account will not be impacted by this change. Your old GeoPass account will still be associated with your MySESAR account, and can be used to access SESAR web services.

Your GeoPass account will still exist, unaffected. However, we recommend that you login to SESAR using ORCID.

GeoPass accounts can still be used to login to institutional accounts that cannot be tied to an individual’s ORCID.

SESAR asks its users to tag IGSNs in their manuscripts. This allows publishers to link the IGSN sample landing page to the manuscript.

Use the following syntax to tag an IGSN


In the published manuscript the IGSN will be formatted as :


An example of a published manuscript with live IGSNs can be found with this reference

Dere, A. L., T. S. White, R. H. April, B. Reynolds, T. E. Miller, E. P. Knapp, L. D. McKay, and S. L. Brantley (2013), Climate dependence of feldspar weathering in shale soils along a latitudinal gradient, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 122, 101-126,


SESAR also asks its users to acknowledge SESAR’s role in maintaining and curating sample metadata. Some example text for acknowledging SESAR can be found below.

The samples used in this study were curated in SESAR the System for Earth Sample Registration. All metadata associated with these samples can be found in the SESAR database.

The Object, or Sample Type, is often related to how the sample was obtained, while the Material is the actual substance that was analyzed. Material is sometimes known as “Medium.”

parent sample is a sample from which subsequent smaller samples are derived. Examples of children samples are: splits, rock powders, thin sections. Multiple parent-child relationships are allowed: (Grandchildren, Great-grandchildren.)

The parent-child relationship is NOT automatically encoded in the IGSN number because the number follows strict length rules. However, if you choose your own IGSN, you can select the alphanumeric characters in a way that has meaning to you.

Sibling samples are defined as samples with the same parent.

If you are registering samples that have parent samples (i.e. thin sections from a rock sample or sediment from a core) Here are basic guidelines for when you should register the parent sample

When you own the parent and child sample:

Register both the parent and child sample, and list the parent IGSN when registering the child sample

When you own the parent sample but not the child sample:

Register the parent sample so that others can reference it when they register child samples. Also inform your colleague who own the child samples so that they know to reference it as the parent when they register their samples

When you own the child sample but not the parent sample:

Register the child sample and do not register the parent sample. If you know the owner of the parent sample you can ask them to register the parent so that you can update your child sample to show the relationship.

Web services is a way for developers to access sample metadata stored in SESAR and to also register samples with SESAR.

To request access for SESAR’s web services fill out this request form [link to form]. A SESAR curator will contact you after your submission.

MySESAR supports up to 3 supplementary files to be attached to each sample. The combined size of these files can not exceed 4 megabytes. The supported file types are .rtf, .pdf, .xls, .xlsx, .txt, .jpg, .gif, .tiff, .png. SESAR is not meant to act as a repository for sample photos, SESAR provides this feature as the additional of sample photos provides rich metadata for samples. Supplementary files can be added to samples from the “Edit sample page” or can be added to multiple samples at once by clicking “Upload files or images to samples” under the Samples heading on the MySESAR homepage.

If there is a term not listed in a controlled list which applies to your sample metadata. Please contact for assistance. When asking for a term to be added to our controlled list we ask that you provide evidence that this term is widely used by the scientific community. This can be shown by attaching publications in the field which use this term, or encyclopedia(?) entries for this term.

When citing samples registered with SESAR in your publication, you can include the IGSN of the sample in the table where you report the sample. Additionally, SESAR can be listen in the acknowledgments for providing sample repository services.


The likely issue is that there are duplicate sample names within your batch template. SESAR does not allow for samples with the same name to be assigned unique IGSNs. IGSNs are meant to identify unique samples. If you split a sample are require IGSNs for the subsamples, the subsample must be reflected in the sample name column when you submit a batch template. (better wording needed)

Any field with the text ‘not provided’ within a sample’s metadata profile page means that the individual who registered that sample did not provide metadata for that field. The text ‘not provided’ is text added by SESAR and is not text written by the individual who registered the sample.

If you uploaded a batch registration template but do not receive an email from SESAR confirming the registration after a five days, please contact with your name and namespace.

Please submit all comments or bug notifications to