Earth & Environment

In Earth Sciences, both Liverpool and Manchester have world-class laboratories addressing high pressure – high temperature rock deformation laboratories, specializing in brittle and plastic deformation, fluid flow, deformation/ metamorphism interactions and volcanology. The unique equipment, designed and built for purpose in both laboratories, covers deformation conditions from the surface to the mantle. 

The electron microscopy facilities in Liverpool and Manchester together are unique; electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) techniques for rocks and metals were pioneered in Liverpool, and Manchester host state-of-the-art electron optics and microprobe facilities. Industry-leading software for basins and petroleum research is available at both sites and comprehensive in-house petrophysical analyses as well as field-based LiDAR, spectral gamma and XRF facilities are also available. The geomagnetism laboratories in Liverpool have a range of state-of-the-art magnetometers and susceptibility instruments including high- and low-temperature microwave SQUID magnetometers. 

Liverpool has extensive facilities for investigating Earth surface processes and environmental change. These include a dedicated optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating laboratory and instruments for analysing chemical properties (XRF and AAS), particle size and shape, organic content and composition of soils and sediments. Liverpool is also well equipped with facilities for palaeoecological research, including bespoke preparation laboratories for pollen, dinoflagellate cysts, plant macrofossils and charcoal analysis. The newly refurbished hydraulics laboratory at Liverpool houses a wave flume, wave-current recirculation flume, shallow overland flow flume, and image and acoustic-based equipment for flow and sediment transport analysis in the field and laboratory. 

Environmental sciences draw on the world-class laboratories of the NERC-funded Williamson Research Centre for Molecular Environmental Science (WRC) at Manchester, essential for characterising complex systems involving mineral, biological and fluid phases and with facilities for geochemical and mineralogical analyses that are unrivalled in the UK. These are complemented by top of the range WRC geomicrobiology laboratories that provide infrastructure for culturing, microcosm and molecular ecology studies, linked to extensive genomic/post-genomic facilities in the Manchester Faculty of Life Sciences and Institute for Biotechnology. 

The newly established Soil and Ecosystem Laboratory at Manchester provides facilities for assessment of carbon and nutrient cycles under controlled conditions and in the field. The environmental radiochemistry laboratories in the Research Centre for Radwaste and Decommissioning and the Centre for Radiochemistry Research (unique in UK Universities) enable biogeochemical radionuclide investigations. Manchester is also the UK’s major environmental science user of synchrotron radiation to address environmental science problems, currently using 8 synchrotrons worldwide, and is intimately involved in the development of environmental science capability at the Diamond Light Source (a DTP partner).