Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Collections and Museums

The permanent collections of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences consist of five formal divisions: the Drill Core Collection, which has about 7000 metres of sedimentary core and 900 metres of kimberlite; the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection that includes over 10,000 type specimens; the Meteorite Collection, which is the 3rd largest in Canada; the Mineralogy and Petrology Collection; and the Trace Fossil Collection that supports research and education in Ichnology.

Specimens from these collections are displayed in the Paleontology and the Mineralogy/Petrology Museum. The museums and collections aid the educational goals of the Department through the presentation of excellent specimens of representative material. Museums are the direct extension of collections housed in subject-oriented teaching and research laboratories, and enable students to view specimens that are too valuable or fragile for handling. In addition to serving the educational purposes of the Department, the museums are a valuable tool for outreach to the general University community, and the public at large.


Collections

  • Canadian Ice Core Archive (CICA)

    Representing more than 10,000 years of evidence of changes to our climate in 1.4 kilometres of ice core samples, the Canadian Ice Core Archive (CICA) collection at the University of Alberta represents invaluable potential for researchers around the world to answer critical climate change questions. With a well-established reputation for research excellence in the Canadian north, researchers from the University of Alberta have spent decades getting to the bottom of what is happening at the top of the Earth, a region increasingly recognized for its valuable water, mineral, and energy resources.

    The CICA facility consists of a -36C ice core archive storage room, -25C freezer lab with ice physical processing and imaging capabilities, and a room-temperature ice core analysis lab housing a Picarro L2140-i oxygen isotope analyzer, Dionex ICS 5000 ion chromatograph, Horiba Aqualog UV-800-C Spectrofluorometer, Beckman Coulter Multisizer 4e, Zeiss petrographic microscope, and more.

  • Drill Core Collection

    The Drill Core Collection was established with the gift of more than 6000 metres of drill core from Shell Canada Limited. Combined with the U of A’s existing core collection, this donation helped form a comprehensive collection used for teaching and research. The collection of drill core originates mainly from the Precambrian basement of the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, with a focus on core from Saskatchewan. The materials include carbonate, clastic, and evaporite sequences as well as shorter cores from the oil sands of Northern Alberta.

    The Drill Core Collection is a valuable asset and greatly enhances Earth and Atmospheric Sciences' teaching and research programs. The support of Shell Canada has provided an important facility in which to train students in reservoir description and provides them the opportunity to gain "hands-on" experience with subsurface core.

  • Invertebrate Paleontology Collection

    With more than two million fossil invertebrates (animals without a spinal cord), the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection provides a comprehensive record of marine life through time. The collection contains diverse specimens from all over the world, including molluscs, trilobites, sea-lilies, brachiopods, corals, and many other important fossil groups. The collection also proudly houses one of the largest stratigraphic collections in the world of Devonian specimens from Western Canada. The collection includes over 10,000 type specimens, and is used extensively for teaching and research activities within the scientific community.

    Many specimens from this collection are on display in the Paleontology Museum. These fossils are a valuable and engaging resource for students, researchers and the public.

  • Meteorite Collection

    The University of Alberta Meteorite Collection is the largest university-based collection in Canada. It comprises over 1100 specimens of over 155 different meteorites. The Meteorite Collection contains specimens from 13 meteorite falls and finds in Alberta, and from over 100 other locations elsewhere in the world.

    Meteorites are "free" specimens of extra-terrestrial material and reveal much about the earth's origins and the conditions that existed during the formation of the solar system. This makes the collection an extremely valuable scientific resource for teaching and research.

    Selected specimens from the EAS Collection are displayed at the Telus World of Science Edmonton.

    Do you think that you have found a meteorite? Visit our Meteorite Report System to report your findings.

  • Mineralogy & Petrology Collection

    The Mineralogy and Petrology Collection is a comprehensive resource of more than 12,000 rock and mineral specimens from around the world. These specimens, from the surface and from deep within the earth, illustrate earth-forming processes and the development of the Earth's crust and upper mantle over the past 4.6 billion years.

    Established in 1912, it is one of the oldest systematic collections in Canada, and is used actively for geological teaching and study, including research in geochemistry, the tectonic history of Alberta, and the search for hydrocarbon reservoirs. Specimens have been acquired during staff and student research projects and through donations from private collectors and the petroleum and mining industries. The collection is a valuable resource for researchers, students, collectors, and the museum community.

  • Trace Fossil Collection

    The Trace Fossil Collection contains fossils that provide evidence of life activities (for example, moving or feeding) preserved in the geologic record. The specimens in this valuable teaching and research resource include burrows, footprints, trackways, feeding traces, and the like.

  • Vertebrate Paleontology Collection

    The University's fossil vertebrate collection of dinosaurs and other early vertebrate animals is one of the finest of its kind in Canada, containing over 41,000 catalogued specimens including some 70 type specimens. The original collection was established in 1920 and this exceptional resource now supports paleontological research and teaching in the departments of Earth and Atmospheric Science and Biological Sciences.

    This collection is curated by the Department of Biological Sciences, in the Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology.

Museums

  • Geoscience Garden

    The Geoscience Garden is an outdoor classroom where students can prepare for geological field work, and members of our community can learn about our geological heritage.

    Visit the Geoscience Garden website for more information about hours, locations, tours, and more.

  • Mineralogy & Petrology Museum

    Established in 1912, the Mineralogy & Petrology Collection is one of the oldest systematic mineral and rock collections in Canada. It currently contains about 12,000 specimens, of which more than a thousand are on display in the Mineralogy & Petrology Museum. The Collection ranges from brilliant crystals to glittering fool's gold to mineralogical rarities and oddities as well as historical specimens from localities that are no longer accessible. The Collection, especially the specimens in the Museum, is a valuable resource for researchers, students, rock and mineral collectors, and the museum community.

    The Museum is located in the Earth Sciences Building, room B-08. Groups of five or more are requested to call in advance to confirm accessibility. Group visits are welcome and available by appointment. Please call (780) 288-0109.

    Open hours:
    Monday – Friday: 8am – 4pm
    Weekends & Holidays: closed

    Arrange a group visit to the museum by submitting a google form.

  • Paleontology Museum

    Highlights from two extraordinary collections, University of Alberta Laboratory for Vertebrate Paleontology and the Invertebrate Paleontology Collection, are available for public discovery in the Paleontology Museum. Specimens on display range in age from over 600 million to 10,000 years, from dinosaurs to fish to trilobites. Significant fossils highlight unique discoveries that address major evolutionary questions. The Museum is a valuable asset to the Department's students and researchers as well as to other paleontologists, and a delight to school groups and the general public.

    The Museum is located in the Earth Sciences Building, room B-01. Groups of five or more are requested to call in advance to confirm accessibility. Group visits are welcome and available by appointment. Please call (780) 288-0109.

    Open hours:
    Monday – Friday: 8am – 4pm
    Weekends & Holidays: closed

    Arrange a group visit to the museum by submitting a google form.

Tours and Programs