May 18, 2020

Moving a Mountain: Volunteers View Pt.3


In this series of blogs our collections move volunteers will tell you all about their experiences of the ‘Moving a Mountain’ project so far. This week they tell us about the different specimens they’ve seen.
Category: 2020
Posted by: Sarah

Since the current lockdown situation has put our collections move on hold, we thought this would be the perfect time to reflect on the project so far. A large part of our project is our amazing volunteer team, and so who better to tell you all about their experiences! In this series of blogs, some of our volunteer team will tell you all about why they decided to volunteer, what interesting specimens they’ve seen and what surprises they’ve come across along the way. This week they answer the question: What has been the most interesting specimen you’ve seen?

Lily - I don’t know anything about geology so everything is new and interesting to me- there are some amazing colours that pop up in amongst the grey!

David - There were some purple and white rocks from Zaire. Going back to my stroke; I was on holiday near Caernarfon, and I am interested (amused) that many of the rocks I have seen were from around there.

Steve - A bag of what seemed to be just black sand. The specimen label revealed that it had been collected on the shores of the Ross Sea during Ernest Shackleton’s 1907 Antarctic Expedition, an interesting reminder that these expeditions were as much about scientific research as the glory of reaching the South Pole. In fact, Shackleton got to just 97 miles from the Pole, the nearest until Amundsen and Scott reached it in 1911/12.

Andrew - I am fascinated by the volcanic rock collection. When I hold them I notice little details that tells me their stories. For example, a volcanic rock’s colouration is a result of the relative proportion of mafic and felsic minerals included in them, and the small circular “vesicles” that sometimes pepper the rock surface is a result of expanding air bubbles within the cooling magma. Outside of the objects I’ve directly handled I was also really intrigued by the huge Ichthyosaur skeleton housed in the stores. This Jurassic age marine reptile would have been quite something to see!

Roger - Lots of interesting looking specimens in the Harker collection, although many of the local names are unfamiliar. One that seemed familiar but which I couldn’t place was borolanite. It turns out that we would have been to the locality (Loch Borolan) on one of the field trips (and it is an interesting rock).

Amy - A fist-sized chunk of obsidian from Yellowstone National Park.

Bernard - I can’t remember what it was called, or the name of the person I was working with, but I was handling a crumbly shiny rock and had a load of shiny dust on my gloves, and she told me that I was holding part of the Earth’s mantle.

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Jul 26, 2020

Back at the beginning of lock down the Getty museum challenged us to recreate famous works of art with objects from around the home (#GettyMuseumChallenge). As soon as I heard about it I knew I had to make the Duria Antiquior. Despite it’s size, you might have missed the ‘Duria’, high up on a wall in the Jurassic pond area of the museum.



Jul 24, 2020

University of Cambridge Museums (UCM) create 28 page Explore and Create pack for families in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.


Jun 15, 2020

On June 19th we are celebrating games and museums with an Animal Crossing live stream! We will join palaeontologist Rob Theodore and game designer Elizabeth Simoens as they explore her island museum.


Sedgwick Museum Collections and Research centre


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If you would like to discuss how you might contribute to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store, please contact Professor Richard Harrison, Head of Department.

To make a donation to the Sedgwick Museum Collections Store please visit our online giving page.

Studying Earth Sciences at Cambridge University

Discover more about studying Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in this video featuring Museum Curator of Mineralogy and Petrology Professor Marian Holness and Sir David Attenborough