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Facilities in the Department of Geology

General facilities and equipment

The Department of Geology either houses or has access to the following facilities:

  • An extensive rock catalogue that houses specimens collected by staff and students over the past 100 years
  • The University library is well supported, particularly in provision of electronic journals and books
  • A Geological Museum housing extensive reference collections of fossils, minerals, and rocks
  • Fieldwork equipment, including: Trimble RTK GNSS (R8s), DJI Phantom 3 quadcopter, iPad Mini field mapping tablet (using Fieldmove software)
  • Several departmental vehicles, trailers and boats
  • A micro-imaging lab and computer lab with an extensive range of computers for student and staff use
  • GIS data and software including ArcGIS
  • Several on campus mechanical and electrical / electronic workshops have facilities and expertise to support design and build of custom equipment
  • A team of helpful and able general and technical staff

Geochemical Analysis

We have a range of facilities for geochemical analysis, including:

  • Wet geochemistry lab
  • Clean room
  • Centre for Trace Element Analysis for stable and radiogenic isotope analysis (including class-10 clean lab and laser ablation system)
  • Microscopy Otago has micro CT, confocal, transmission and scanning electron microscope facilities, including a state of the art FEGSEM with EBSD and high speed EDX
  • CryoTEM and laser for trace element and isotope analysis

More information about geochemical facilities


We have geophysics equipment suitable for on land and offshore geophysics surveys. We also have a range of computing and software for processing and interpretation of geophysical data-sets.

  • A range of field geophysics equipment is operated in Geology and Surveying
  • The University and Department have excellent computing facilities with licenses for proprietary software in geophysics and structural geology
  • A two-person kayak for work on lake coastlines
  • An inflatable boat plus outboard motor for lake and coastal work

More information about our geophysics facilities

Marine Geology

We have access to a range of facilities for marine geology, including:

  • Sediment processing and analysis
  • Otago Repository for Core Analysis with GeoTek MSCL and Itrax XRF
  • The RV Polaris II, a research vessel operated by Marine Sciences, provides a platform for coastal and open water research and is equipped with seismic imaging tools, coring and dredging equipment
  • A two-person kayak for work on lake coastlines
  • An inflatable boat plus outboard motor for lake and coastal work
  • Cold rooms (to -30C) are housed in geography and physics

More information about our paleoclimate and marine geology facilities

Mineralogy and Petrology

Mineralogy and petrology is an important area of research to us and as such we have good facilities for mineralogy and petrology.

  • Optical microscopy labs
  • Hydrothermal Reaction Laboratory
  • Cathodoluminescence microscopy setup
  • XRD (X-ray diffraction) equipment
  • Thin sections are made in a newly refurbished lapidary facility, upgraded to enable polishing of most sample types

More information about our mineralogy and petrology facilities


The Otago Paleomagnetic Research facility includes:

  • cryogenic (or supercooled) rock magnetometer—one of the most sensitive of its kind in the world
  • in-line AF demagnetisation, magnetic susceptibility and anhysteretic remanent magnetism capabilities
  • fluxgate magnetometer, an ASC Thermal demagnetiser, and ASC impulse magnetiser, a Bartington single sample susceptibility bridge, a LakeShore Cryotronics Micromag Vibrating Sample Magnetometer, and an AGICO MFK1-A Kappabridge with 3-D rotator


Our paleontology facilities support a wide range of paleontological research and includes the following facilities:

  • Macro and micro fossil preparation labs including dust extraction; airscribes, microjack, pneumatic chisels and drills small and large; air abrasive unit; dry cutoff grinder; rock saw and lap; long-focus binocular scopes
  • Field equipment includuing chain saw with rock-cutting chain, masonry saw; petrol-powered rotary percussion drill; 12 hp portable compressor, chipping hammers, pneumatic drills

Paleontology facilities in the Department of Geology

Structural Geology facilities

We have a range of software and equipment that can be used to study structural geology.

  • Hydrothermal Reaction Laboratory
  • The University and Department have excellent computing facilities with licenses for proprietary software in geophysics and structural geology including MOVE and Claritas

More information about our structural geology facilities


We have a range of facilities that support our many active volcanology research projects.

  • Lab-scale volcanic fissure through which we intrude hot polyethylene glycol (PEG) wax, a common magma or lava analogue
  • Rapid Sediment Analysis software capable of analysing sediment in the grainsize range – 2 phi to 4 phi at quarter-phi resolution, utilising Geology or Geography Department settling tubes

More information about our volcanology facilities