School of GeoSciences

Research and Teaching Facilities

We are exceptionally well-equipped with the latest technologies to enable our researchers to stay at the forefront of their fields.

The School houses an impressive range of facilities and services and is involved with a number of collaborative centres of research excellence. For example, we have a wide range of high-tech facilities for the analysis of rocks, minerals and fluids, for isotope analysis and measurement of the physical properties of rocks. We have excellent facilities and expertise for scientific computing in geographic information systems, meteorological models and geophysics. We also place a strong emphasis on field measurement techniques in ecological, atmospheric and earth sciences.

National Services and Facilities

The School hosts and manages a number of National analytical facilities, mainly on behalf of the Natural Environment Research Council. We are partners in:

School Services and Facilities

Facilities in Alphabetical Order

School Facilities in Alphabetical Order

Facilities by Analysis Type

School Facilities listed by analysis type or activity and contacts.

Airborne GeoSciences

Airborne GeoSciences
The School of GeoSciences has a small aircraft to examine the lower atmosphere and its interactions with the land surface. The aeroplane can make measurements of trace gas concentrations up to about 10,000 feet asl and take images of the Earth's surface.

EMMAC: Micro-Analysis

The Edinburgh Materials and Micro-Analysis Centre (EMMAC) exists to provide integrated and interdisciplinary facilities for the application of microbeam techniques to material analysis.

NERC Ion Micro-Probe Facility (SIMS)

The Facility carries out in-house research and provides a service to the earth and environmental science community. It is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). The Ion Micro-Probe (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, SIMS) Facility is located in the School of GeoSciences, Grant Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

NERC Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF).

The NERC Geophysical Equipment Facility (GEF) loans equipment suitable for geophysical research free of charge to universities and other institutes engaged in environmental research within the NERC remit.

NERC Recognised Experimental Geoscience Facility

The NERC Recognised Experimental Geoscience (XG) facility is a suite of laboratories equipped to support experimental investigations of physical, chemical and coupled Earth processes across a range of conditions from ambient surficial environments, through subsurface aquifer and reservoir conditions to crustal and mantle processes.

NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility

The NERC Field Spectroscopy Facility is located in the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh and provides a specialist services to the environmental sciences community. Included in the Facility site are links to all relevant loan application and user information.

Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Facility

The facility supports in-house research and provides a service to the earth and environmental science community as well as to all units within Edinburgh University. The SEM is run in conjunction with the electron microprobe and ion microprobe units that together form a unique suite of analytical instruments.

Electron Probe Microanalysis (EPMA) Facility

The Electron Probe Microanalysis Facility features a world-class Cameca SX100 instrument and is located in the Grant Institute, School of GeoSciences, at the University of Edinburgh.

Optical Microscope Laboratory

The optical microscopy laboratory is located in the School of GeoSciences and is used by undergraduate, postgraduate, research and teaching staff within the School.

Sample Preparation Facility

The Sample Preparation facility in the School of GeoSciences, is an in-house facility offering a wide range of sample impregnation, cutting, grinding, separation and polishing services for the preparation of geological samples. The expertise and services are also available for the preparation of other materials.

The Cockburn Geological Museum

The Cockburn Museum at King's Buildings holds a very extensive collection of geological specimens and historical objects which reflect Edinburgh's prominent position in geological sciences since the time of James Hutton (1726-1797) and its continuing activity today.

UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC)

Students in the Biochar Research Lab
Since 2009, the UK Biochar Research Centre (UKBRC) has led strategic, multidisciplinary investigations of biochar. It is based in the School of GeoSciences at The University of Edinburgh, in collaboration with Newcastle University and Rothamsted Research.


Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometry and Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry

Wolfson Laboratory - Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometry

The School has an established stable isotope laboratory, which was partially funded by the Wolfson Foundation when it was setup in 1996.

The X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Facility

The X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) spectrometer is located in the Grant Institute, School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh . The facility primarily supports research programmes within the School of GeoSciences but also provides an analytical service to the wider earth science, environmental and consultative communities.

X-Ray Diffraction Facility

The XRD is located in the Grant Institute, School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh . The facility supports internal and external research.

Facilities for Chemical Analysis

The School houses a wide range of geochemical facilities which support research within the School. These facilities also support teaching programmes within the School of GeoSciences and provide an analytical service to other units within the University and other external research bodies.

Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory

The University of Edinburgh's Terrestrial Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory prepares samples for the measurement of cosmogenic isotopes by Accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS).

Field Equipment

Information about the Field Equipment used for Teaching or Research

Mechanical Workshop

The mechanical workshop provides design, build and manufacture services on different types of materials and for a wide range of purposes. We support research and teaching, activities and work closely with our customers in the development of bespoke apparatus.

Organic Geochemistry

An Organic Geochemistry laboratory housing wide-ranging analytical capabilities for extraction, separation, identification and quantification of a wide range of natural and contaminant chemicals, in addition to C and N elemental and stable isotopic analyses.


The Tephra Analysis Unit (TAU), located at the School of Geosciences University of Edinburgh is an internationally recognised centre for the analysis of volcanic glasses and melt inclusions by electron probe microanalysis . The TAU has many clients from throughout the UK, and from countries including Sweden, Norway, Iceland, USA and Estonia.