Restless Surface

See dramatic rock formations and learn about how they came into being. Examine a giant stalagmite, find out how the Himalayas were formed, and discover how stones change shape as they travel.

Boulders on display in the Restless Surface gallery.

Wind, water and weather cause constant changes in the Earth’s surface. Restless Surface shows you how and why these changes take place.

Cross section of a stalagmite.

This stalagmite was formed by water depositing minerals as it dripped onto the floor of a cave. The process took hundreds of years.

Woman looking at layers in a soil profile.

The layers that can be seen when you cut through soil are known as horizons. They have developed through decayed matter washed down through the soil, and from the parent rock below on which it is formed.

Grooves caused by ice dragged across this boulder.

Slow-moving ice scarred this boulder, causing deep grooves as it dragged sharp fragments across the stone’s surface. The boulder has also been polished by finer particles trapped in the ice.

Part of a limestone pavement.

These limestone pavements take thousands of years to form. They are flat expanses of bare rock with deep gaps between them known as grikes. Glaciers scoured soil and plants off the limestone, and rainwater probably created the patterns in its surface.

Floor Plans
Floor Plans
Cartoon image of a snake disappearing through closing door

Last year nearly 100,000 specimens were loaned to scientific institutions and researchers worldwide.