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Earth and Environmental Sciences


The combination and scope of our facilities enables thorough research projects to be undertaken all in the same location, making the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences an ideal location for business, education and research. Our facilities are supported by an expert team of laboratory, research and computing technicians.

Chemical, imaging and mineralogical facility

This laboratory focuses on the analysis of chemical elements in inorganic materials. Both spot (analysing a small area) and bulk (analysing a large area, or whole sample) methods are possible, allowing a comprehensive analysis of a variety of natural and synthetic compounds.

All analytical facilities are available for educational, research and commercial purposes.

For further questions regarding our CIMF, you can download our spec sheet (pdf) or contact Gavyn Rollinson. For documentation please see below:

Lab documentation

Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (Agilent 240 FS)

AAS is used to measure elements in solution. The method uses the principle that atoms and ions can absorb light at a specific, unique wavelength when excited. Excitation of atoms is produced via an air/acetylene or nitrous oxide/acetylene flame. Hollow cathode lamps are used to provide a light source for specified elements, which can be singe element or multi-element lamps. The 240FS differs from traditional AAS in that it allows for sequential analysis of elements, meaning aspiration and analysis time is reduced. The instrument has an automated sample holder that can hold up to 240 samples.

Cold Cathodoluminescence microscope (CITL CCL 8200 MK3)

An optical microscope with attached JVC digital camera. It is used to examine samples prepared as polished thin sections to study the luminescence characteristics of for example, carbonates, quartz and feldspars for crystal and cement development phases.

Electron Microprobe

The electron-probe microanalyser (EPMA) is an advanced instrument used for spot analysis, element mapping and to characterise the chemical composition of minerals and materials at the micron scale. The high resolution, low background and automation of the instrument enable analysis to be reliable, quick and precise.

Inductively Coupled Plasma - Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS)

ICP-MS can detect a full suite of chemical elements (Li to U) in a single multi-element sample.

Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometer (LA-ICP-MS)

LA-ICP-MS is designed to measure in-situ chemical elements by ablating (removal and dissipating by melting) a spot or line from a solid sample using a laser. The material can then be analysed using ICP-MS, to measure chemical elements.


The SEM (scanning electron microscope) uses an electron beam to examine a sample. The instrument consists of an X-ray EDS (Energy Dispersive Spectrometer) detector and a backscatter/secondary electron detector that are used in combination to evaluate a sample. The backscatter /secondary detector records electrons emitted from a sample for visual detail and the X-ray EDS detector records X-rays to enable qualitative and semi-quantitative chemical analysis. The instrument can be operated in either low vacuum or high vacuum mode.

X-ray diffraction (XRD)

New benchtop XRD coming soon.


Surveying equipment is essential in a variety of fields such as mapping, construction, civil law and transport. Our surveying equipment is available for educational and commercial purposes such as civil engineering, geotechnical engineering and the minerals and mining industry.

Total Stations

Total stations are electronic optical theodolites (instrument that measures angles) combined with laser distance meters. They are fundamental pieces of surveying equipment that are used in all aspects of surveying. At CSM we have the following models of total stations:

Leica TPS1200

Trimble M3

Please contact Sam Hughes for further information.


Laser scanning is a popular tool for collecting vast amounts of precise geospatial data in minimal time. Rapid and precise recording and calculation of surveying measurements is a crucial component of executing mining, quarrying and land surveying operations. These cutting-edge pieces of equipment gather geospatial data, enabling the users to rapidly construct accurate 3D computer models in detail. At CSM we have the following scanners:

Lecia C10

Zeb Revo

Leica HDS3000

Please contact Matt Eyre for further information.

High-precision GNSS receivers

These pieces of equipment are designed in mind to make previously challenging areas to reach accessible and possible to measure. They utilise satellite navigation systems to provide accurate positioning. At CSM we have the following models of high-precision GNSS receivers:

Leica GPS1200

Trimble R10 Smart Rover

Please contact Neil Wood for further information.


Within surveying gyroscopes are used to determine the true orientation of a chosen area, as accurate measurement of direction and location is highly important within the mining lifecycle industry. At CSM we have the DMT Gyromat 2000 gyroscope.

Please contact Andy Wetherelt for additional information.

Minerals engineering

Minerals engineering is the process of separating valuable minerals from the non-valuable rock in which they are found. There are a variety of mineral processing methods, and Camborne School of Mines is home to a dedicated minerals engineering laboratory, which houses a wide range of equipment used to support research, teaching and industry in the mining and minerals field. Our laboratory specialises in the physical separation of minerals as well as other materials and features a wide range of equipment available for educational, research and commercial purposes.

All samples can be submitted for geo-chemical and mineralogical analysis in the Chemical, imaging and mineralogical laboratory.

Please contact Rob Fitzpatrick for further information about our minerals engineering facilities and capabilities.


In nature different minerals exist in an interlocking state forming a rock mass. In order to separate valuable minerals from non-valuable components, the rock mass must be broken down to physically liberate the valuable minerals from their interlocked state. This process is known as comminution.

Comminution is typically practiced through crushing and grinding. Our laboratory contains crushers including a jaw, cone, rolls and hammer impact crusher as well as both batch and continuous rod and ball grinding mills. A Bond ball mill is available to determine the grindability of mineral samples.


The sizing process involves organising and separating particles in accordance of their size. The laboratory is equipped with a range of sieves, screens, lasers and hydrocyclones enabling a diverse selection of materials to be sized.

Froth flotation

Froth flotation works by exploiting differences in the hydrophobicity (relative attractiveness to water) by mixing the particles in water and injecting bubbles of air. Hydrophobic (water repellent) particles attach to air bubbles which are collected whilst hydrophilic (water attracting) particles do not. Careful addition of chemicals allows for the surface chemistry of specific minerals to be altered to behave hydrophobically. The major areas of application for flotation are in base metal separation and some industrial minerals. The technique can also be applied to remediation of soil and plastics recycling.

We can undertake a programme of batch-scale tests on a number of minerals, and through our combined staff expertise, we can advise on appropriate methods and chemical regimes for the practice.

Sensor based automated sorting

This process utilises one or more sensors to measure the properties of a particle. These measurements are used to classify particles into different types. The particles are then separated by means of an external force such as a compressed air jet or ejection paddle. Our equipment can measure and refine optical data, such as colour, shape and size, measure relative conductivity and filter specific wavelengths.

Electrostatic separation

Electrostatic separators utilise the conductive properties of particles to separate materials. The minerals engineering laboratory at CSM is equipped with a Carpco high-tension electrostatic separator which allows for the separation of conductive materials such as cassiterite (tin ore) from insulators such as garnet.

Gravity separation

Gravity based processing techniques utilise differences in the density of particles to separate materials. Gravity separation is used industrially in many applications from metal ores such as cassiterite (tin) and wolframite (tungsten) to coal and industrial minerals such as kaolin (china clay). The labs at CSM are equipped with a wide range of laboratory scale separation equipment that can be used to determine the feasibility of economically separating valuable minerals based on their density at a commercial scale.

Magnetic separation

Magnetic separators utilise the magnetic properties of particles to separate materials. The minerals engineering laboratory at CSM has the facility to undertake both wet and dry magnetic separation on both highly magnetic material such as magnetite (iron ore) and also weakly magnetic minerals such as hematite (iron ore) and ilmenite (titanium ore). This equipment can be used to determine the feasibility of economically separating valuable minerals based on their density at a commercial scale.

Deep Digital Cornwall

Research, development and innovation support for 40+ SMEs in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly exploring digital technologies connected to the underground environment, complete with a data hub, visualisation suite and GeoVision Cornwall.

Find out more on our designated website.

Sedimentology laboratory

Location: Daphne du Maurier Building, Penryn Campus, Cornwall

The Sedimentology Laboratory is used by academic staff, research students and undergraduates for investigations in physical geography, including dissertation research. The lab contains two fume cupboards, furnaces for loss on ignition (total organic matter content), drying cabinets, and sieving equipment, including sieve shakers as well as standard sedimentology equipment. This laboratory contains numerous microscopes and is also used for teaching.

IT Suite

Location: Daphne du Maurier Building, Penryn Campus, Cornwall

This teaching suite contains 66 high-specification computers with the latest Geographic Information Systems and mapping software, designed to support teaching and learning in cartography, spatial mapping and analysis, remote sensing, statistics, and computer modelling.


We have a dedicated drone laboratory and a range of systems, including a heavylifting delta wing aircraft, heavy-lifting octocopter, lightweight powered gliders and lightweight multi-rotor aircraft. We combine drone survey flights with expert ground-support using field validation methodologies which we have developed and refined. We have a high accuracy differential GPS to support registration of data and access to a high performance computing cluster with bespoke software for rapid data processing. Find out more about DroneLab.