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Mineral Collection - Faculty of Geological Science






Geological Sciences

Crystallography and Mineralogy

José María Fernández Barrenechea

+34 91394 4882


Description of Funds

A fundamental part of the geological knowledge of Earth lies in the analysis of the crystallographic and mineralogical structure of rocks.

The Department of Crystallography and Mineralogy of the Faculty of Geological Sciences exhibits a collection of material for educational purpose. The minerals and rocks are sorted by groups depending on their chemical nature.

The collection shows curious minerals used in industry, such as pieces of asbestos or sepiolite and others historically used as building materials, such as serpentine. The exhibition not only shows a single representative specimen but also the diversity of shapes and patterns of the same mineral, for example, calcites.

The showcases hold geological formations resembling biological structures as well as calcareous rocks, such as stalactites and stalagmites, coral structures and geodes of extraordinary beauty.

Among the pieces of special historic value, there is a lithographic stone used to print a "notice", possibly from “Gaceta de Madrid” Newspaper, advertising two books edited by Carlos Gimbernat (1765-1834). The books were especially designed for soldiers in Germany, one is a “Spanish-German Dictionary” including most commonly used words (Munich, 1807) and the other is a guide for Spanish soldiers in Germany. Carlos Gimbernat became Deputy Director of the Royal Cabinet of Natural History (now the National Museum of Natural Sciences) in the transition from eighteenth to nineteenth centuries. Gimbernat learned lithography in Germany, alongside Karl Senfelder, and was the introducer of this technique in Spain.

Another set of relevant pieces is the Collection of Jean Baptiste Romé de L’isle. The group of ceramics represents crystallographic structures, multiple twinned particles (MTPs) and mineral replicas. It is made up of 186 pieces and constitutes the only collection of this author preserved in our country. The collection is based on the crystallographic study of constancy of angles made by Romé de L’isle (1736-1790).

In some reserved space, you can find instruments for educational purpose in the discipline of crystallography, such as teaching models through which the crystallographic networks were explained and other materials used in research. The petrographic microscopes and X-ray equipment allowed the analysis of the crystal structures and the accurate measurement of interatomic distances.

The History of the Collection

The set of materials related to mineralogy and crystallography include historic pieces as well as teaching material and technical equipment used in research over the twentieth century.