The Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology houses extensive collections of minerals (c. 12,000), rocks (c. 9,000) and fossils (c. 12,000). A selection of mineral and fossil material is on display in corridor areas of the Department, and members of the public can visit by arrangement through the Department.
The Gordon Collection, a bequest to the Department by the Rev. J.M. Gordon in memory of his father, forms the basis of the Mineral Collection that contains excellent material of world-wide origin, including specimens from classic localities now lost to science.
The Rock Collection has strength in local and Scottish rock types, but also includes much material of world-wide origin. Much of the material was collected and added to the collection by Prof. T.C. Phemister. The collection is valuable in that many localities are no longer available for collecting.
The Palaeontology Collection contains numerous specimens, particularly corals and bryozoans, collected in the 19th C by Prof H. A. Nicholson. The collection contains over 500 'Type and Figured' specimens for which a published catalogue exists.
Although some material dates back to the time of Prof James Nicol, it was Prof H.A. Nicholson who created the basis of the collection and who added a large number of fossil corals and bryozoa. Recent additions to the collection include the A.G. Lyon Collection of Rhynie chert plants (mainly peels), and also newly discovered arthropods from the Windyfield chert; both deposits occur near Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, and are of Early Devonian age (see Rhynie chert web site). Other recent acquisitions include type material of trace fossils from the Permian of the Falkland Islands, and Devonian fossil fish material from the Midland Valley and Caithness.
The collections are mainly used for research and teaching. Material is made available for study on an international basis. Requests to view or borrow specimens should be made to the Hon. Curator.