MagIC as a FAIR Repository for America's Directional Archaeomagnetic Legacy Data

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Beginning in 1964, an academic lineage of Robert DuBois and his students, Daniel Wolfman and Jeffrey Eighmy, developed dedicated United States-based archaeomagnetic research programs. Collectively, they analyzed over 5,377 archaeomagnetic sites, primarily from North America, dated to less than 2,000 years old. Yet despite their decades of effort, few journal publications resulted. Most of their published results are embedded in archeological reports, often without technical data, which limits the data's accessibility. Furthermore, when published, the results are generally averaged at the site level using statistical conventions different from today's standards, limiting the data's comparability and (re)usability. In 2015, we undertook a salvage archival study to digitize the surviving data and metadata from the scientists' individual estates and emeritus collections. We digitized measurement data from more than 51,000 specimens, reinterpreted them using modern conventions, and uploaded them to the FAIR-adhering magnetic data repository, earthref.org/MagIC. The reinterpreted site-level results from the three laboratories are mutually consistent, permitting the individual data sets to be combined and analyzed as single regional entities. Through incorporation into the MagIC repository, these legacy data are now accessible for incorporation into archaeomagnetic and global magnetic field modeling efforts, critical to understanding Earth's magnetic field variation through time. In the Four Corners region of the United States Southwest, this digitized archive advances the development of a new regional paleosecular variation curve used in archaeomagnetic dating. This project highlights both the value and complexities of managing legacy data; the many lessons learned to set a precedent for future paleomagnetic data recovery efforts.