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Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences


Igneous & Metamorphic Petrology (‘Harker’) Collection

The Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Collection is also known as the ‘Harker Collection’ after Alfred Harker, who curated it from the 1880s until his death in 1939. Harker took the igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks collected by earlier workers such as Adam Sedgwick, John Stevens Henslow and Charles Darwin and systematically organised and catalogued them. He also oversaw and engaged in the acquisition of new material by collection, purchase, donation and exchange. In 1931 the Petrology section was split off from the Sedgwick Museum and combined with Mineralogy to form a new department, the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology. During this process it seems that only the igneous and metamorphic rocks in the collection were transferred to the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology; sedimentary rocks being retained by the Department of Geology (Sedgwick Museum). The igneous and metamorphic rock collection was returned to the Sedgwick Museum in 1980 when the three Departments of Geodesy and Geophysics, Geology (Sedgwick Museum) and Mineralogy and Petrology amalgamated to form the current Department of Earth Sciences and Sedgwick Museum of Earth Sciences.

The Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Collection has global coverage; most major igneous and metamorphic provinces are represented. The collection consists of about 160,000 hand specimens and 250,000 thin sections, about 25% of which have been referenced in the international scientific literature. The collection continues to grow through the effort of researchers in the Department of Earth Sciences, but also from workers in other institutions and through deposit via the Regional Collections Centre Scheme.

Sedimentary Petrology (‘Maurice Black’) Collection

The Sedimentary Petrology Collection can be traced back to the origins of the Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology Collection becoming a collection in its own right when the Sedgwick Museum’s igneous and metamorphic rocks were transferred to the Department of Mineralogy and Petrology in 1931 (see above). It is also sometimes known as the ‘Maurice Black Collection’, after Maurice Black, a carbonate sedimentologist in the Department of Geology, who developed the collection during the 1930s -1960s.

The Sedimentary Petrology Collection, comprises a nucleus of about 32,000 hand specimens and an unknown number of thin sections. It includes specimens collected by John Stevens Henslow, Adam Sedgwick, Rev. John Hailstone and R.H. Rastall. Many specimens still have Harker Petrology Collection numbers and labels written in Harker’s handwriting. The collection also includes the Cambridge bore core made by W.B.R. King c. 1951. The ‘Sedgwick Museum Stratigraphy Collection’ of thin sections (about 3,500 specimens) has been cut from many of the specimens in this collection and can therefore be considered as a sub set of it. There are an estimated 82,180 additional specimens including PhD thesis collections, miscellaneous Departmental Collections and other backlog material that may need to be incorporated into the collection.

Museum Opening Times

Monday - Friday: 10am - 5pm

Saturday: 10am - 4pm

Sunday: Closed

Admission Free

No booking required (except groups)