Geology and physical sciences research


Chondrules from the Isna meteorite

The research carried out by staff and long term volunteers in the Earth and Physical Sciences department is varied and ranges across all the collection areas. Our work spans historical research into the lives of past scientists, instrument makers, horologists and collectors to modern palaeoenvironmental interpretations in an attempt to understand the development of modern ecosystems and the way in which they change over geological time.

Building on the strengths of the department our research currently focuses upon the local horological and scientific instrument making trades, the Carboniferous flora of the Lancashire coalfield, the palaeobotany of the Middle Trias (Anisian) and reinterpretation of the reptile footprint tracks found in the local Triassic sandstones.

Our work

The department's curatorial work is focussed upon interpretation, display and primary research involving the documentation of collections. Our research activities are not only related to areas of the collection that are well documented but also to explore historic areas of the collection that have been relatively overlooked. This is to get a clearer interpretation of the nature of the collection and ways in which it might be developed in the future.

You can visit our staff profiles to see our specific areas of interest and our research and publications are listed below.

Items from the Physical Science, Horology and Geology collections are on display in World Museum and also in the Museum of Liverpool.

We are now planning a series of improvements to the dinosaur displays on the 4th floor of World Museum in preparation for a major long-term dinosaur gallery redevelopment.

Research projects

  • The history of foraminiferal micropalaeontology (co-edited volume), Alan Bowden.
  • A view of the local Trias Anisian environments determined from an analysis of the palaeoflora, Alan Bowden and Wendy Simkiss.
  • Continuing investigations into the Triassic ichnofauna of the North West, Geoff Tresise.
  • The Derby Agates & Bryce M. Wright, Wendy Simkiss.
  • Survey of North-West England watchmakers and their families, Dennis Moore.


  • Bowden A.J. & Simkiss W. 2003. Henry Hugh Higgins and Frederick Price Marrat: the reluctant palaeobotanists and the Ravenhead collection. Proc. Geol. Assoc. 114, 327-338
  • Tresise G.R., King M.J., Sarjeant W.A.S., & Thompson D.B. 2005. Revised Systematic Ichnotaxonomy and Review of the Vertebrate Ichnofamily Chirotheriidae from the British Triassic. Ichnos, 12:241-299.
  • Simkiss W. 2005. Lost and almost found again - a note from World Museum Liverpool. North West Geologist v12, 3-4.
  • Simkiss W. & Bowden A.J. 2005. Palaeobotanical Studies and collecting in the 19th century with particular reference to the Ravenhead Collection and Henry Hugh Higgins. In Bowden A.J., Burek C.V. & Wilding R. (eds) A History of Palaeobotany: Selected Essays. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. 241, 111-126.
  • Bowden A.J., Burek C.V. & Wilding R.(eds) 2005. A History of Palaeobotany: Selected Essays. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. 241. 304pp
  • Bowden A.J. 2006. Meteorite Provenance and the Asteroid Connection. In McCall G.J.H., Bowden A.J. & Howarth R.J. (eds) The History of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. 256., 379-403.
  • McCall G.J.H., Bowden A.J. & Howarth R.J. 2006. A history of Meteoritics and Key Meteorite Collections: Fireballs, Falls and Finds. Geol. Soc. Spec. Pub. 256. 520pp.
  • Tresise, G.R. 2007. Chirotherium and the Quarry men. North West Geologist, v.14, 6-15.
  • Bowden, A.J.2009. Geology at the crossroads: aspects of the geological career of Dr John MacCulloch (1773-1835). In Lewis, C.L.E. & Knell, S (eds.) The first geological society: The Geological Society of London. Geological Society of London Special Publication 317,255-278.
  • Bowden, A.J. Tresise, G.R., & Simkiss, W. 2010. Chirotherium, the Liverpool footprint hunters and their interpretation of the Middle Trias Environment. In Moody, R.T.J., Buffetaut, E., Naish, D,& Martill, D. (eds.) Dinosaurs and other extinct saurians: A historical Perspective. Geological Society of London Special Publication 343, 209-228.
  • Moore, D. 2003. British Clockmakers & Watchmakers Apprentice Records 1710-1810. Mayfield Books. 367pp