Published: 9 December 2014

Students on treasure hunt of rocks and fossils on campus

Students at the University of Liverpool have taken part in the Herdman Society’s ‘Great Geo-Treasure Hunt’, a programme designed to enhance understanding of the ethical use of global resources.

The scheme brings together students from a variety of degree programmes and levels of study to gain confidence in the language needed to describe and understand rocks and how they can be used to sustain the environment.

The treasure hunt took place on the University’s campus, where buildings have been constructed from a wide range of material from the UK and overseas. In addition to the red bricks of the Victoria Building, red standstone was also used from local quarries and imported flagstones from the Pennines. More intricate stonework used Portland limestone from Dorset and some plaques were made from granite, likely from Scotland.

Professor Jim Marshall, from the University’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “Campus buildings constructed between the 1930’and 1970’s have claddings that include highly fossiliferous limestones, most probably from North Wales, and chunks of coarsely crystalline rocks that formed deep within the earth’s crust.

“The most recent phase of building and paving around the campus has brought a wide range of exotic rock material from Asia and elsewhere.”

“The ready identification of fossils, sedimentary structures, minerals and tectonic features are key skills for our students. When they graduate a large proportion of them stay ‘within the subject’ and more than 75% of Liverpool graduates in this field gain employment or go on to further training in degree related areas including the petroleum industry, mineral exploration, engineering and environmental occupations.”

As well as learning about these materials and sustainability measures, the treasure hunt fostered map-reading skills. Students had to match 26 locations, annotated on a map, with a list of rock descriptions. The winning team scored 19 out of a possible 26.

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