In 1963, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), through its Office of Polar Programs, established a curatorial and research center to house what has become one of the world's largest collections of marine sediment cores. The Antarctic Research Facility, adjunct of the Florida State University Earth Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences was designed specifically as a national repository for geological materials collected in polar regions. Initially, NSF supported the analysis of Antarctic continental shelf deposits, collected under the auspices of the US Navy Hydrographic Office on board US Coast Guard icebreakers participating in the early Deep Freeze expeditions. After experience was gained in the processing and handling of marine core sediments and dredge samples retrieved by these vessels, the Facility became responsible, from 1969-72, for the shipboard marine geology coring program in the Southern Ocean using the research vessel USNS Eltanin. The systematic, multi-disciplinary survey covered 80% of the Southern Ocean between 35 degrees South and the Antarctic continent while steaming over 650,000 km.
In 1975 the Eltanin was renamed the Islas Orcadas and was transferred to the Argentine naval fleet, where until 1978 she was part of a cooperative, international venture between the governments of the Republic of Argentina and the United States of America, where was continued the Southern Ocean survey. During this operation, the Facility maintained the shipboard retrieval program. In the late 1960s to 1987, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Glacier, as part of the International Weddell Sea Oceanographic Expeditions and Operations Deep Freeze, recovered and sent to the Facility several thousand meters of deep sea sediment cores. Coring operations continued during the late 1980's and early 1990s aboard the R/V Polar Duke. Today sediment and drill cores retrieved by the R/Vs Nathaniel B. Palmer and Laurence M. Gould are actively archived at the Facility.