Department of Geography

The Physical Geography Laboratories

The Physical Geography laboratories at Sussex are located in the Chichester I building and provide a working environment amongst the most pleasant and spacious of any British geography department. Conveniently for students reading Geography and Environmental Science at Sussex, the laboratories adjoin those of Environmental Science.

The Physical Geography laboratories comprise a large teaching lab., four research labs and a dedicated rooms for rock-cutting, sieving and storage. In addition to the laboratories, Geography has its own Land Rover for teaching and research.

Teaching Laboratory

The Teaching Laboratory is used mainly by second-year students carrying out practical work and by final-year students carrying out project work

The physical geography laboratories

Equipment in the Teaching Lab. includes:

  • an incubator
  • ovens
  • furnaces
  • wet-sieving facilities for measuring water-stable aggregates
  • equipment for measuring Atterberg limits
  • an atomic absorption spectrophotometer (AAS)
  • a flame photometer
  • new portable water-chemistry equipment that students can use in the field to look at aspects of water pollution.
  • video display for connection to binocular microscope
  • balances for weighing sediment and chemicals

Research laboratories

1. The Sediment Preparation Lab.

This is a lab in which peat and sediment samples can be examined and prepared for analysis, and clasts from diamictons and gravels can be measured. The lab also houses equipment for soil and rock freezing experiments (miniature pore-water pressure transducers, linear voltage displacement transformers, soil-freezing boxes, pc for data logging)

2. The Sediment Analysis Lab.

This lab. contains:

  • a laser-based Malvern Particle Sizer
  • an X-ray-based sedigraph (both for measuring sand, silt and clay contents of clastic sediment)
  • a drip-type rainfall simulator for soil erosion experiments
  • a state-of-the art laser scanner for studies of soil and rock erosion and weathering rates
  • a direct shear box
The physical geography laboratories


3. The Analytical Lab.

This is a lab used for microscopic examination of rock, soil, and plant and animal remains. It contains a Nikon microscope with camera attachment for pollen analysis and examination of rock and soil thin sections. There are also several binocular microscopes for examining Mollusca, plant macrofossils etc. Funding has just been approved for purchase of 10 new binocular microscopes for teaching students how to identify fossil biological remains.

4. The Rock Weathering Lab.

This lab. contains a Sanyo Environmental Chamber which can be programmed to specific temperature and humidity cycles and automatically controlled for rock weathering experiments.

The lab. also houses:

  • point load apparatus
  • abrasion equipment
  • rock and soil impregnation apparatus
  • rock and sediment tumblers

5. The Sieving Room

This contains 3 sets of sieves (0.5 phi intervals) for teaching, 4 shakers for dry sieving and a mill for crushing soil and sediment.

Physical Geography also shares equipment with Environmental Science, including a new computer-operated Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer (AAS) and a Hach for water-chemistry analysis. An electron microscope housed in the School of Biological Sciences is also available to physical geographers.