Ocean bottom deposit collection

Challenger specimen jar with microfossils

Specimen jar from the HMS Challenger expedition. The dried and cleaned sediment inside is made up of hundreds of thousands of microfossils.

The Museum’s ocean bottom deposit collection consists of samples from about 40,000 locations around the world and is the most comprehensive British collection of seabed samples and cores.

The Museum collections house ocean bottom deposits from all the world's oceans. Approximately 45 per cent of the deposits are from the Atlantic Ocean, 35 per cent are from the Pacific Ocean and 25 per cent are from the Indian Ocean.

The ocean bottom deposit collection is invaluable for studies of the ocean and ocean floor, including research looking at global change, climatic warming and marine pollution.

Major collections

The most important sub- collection is the Sir John Murray Collection, which includes sea-bed samples from the HMS Challenger expedition (1872-76). It was given to the Museum by the Murray family in 1921 following his death in 1914.

Other important sub-collections include:

  • ores and sediments from the 1933-34 John Murray expedition to the Indian Ocean
  • the Dennis Curry Collection of sediments and cores from the English Channel
  • the Institute of Oceanographic Sciences Collection of British continental shelf deposit
  • the Imperial College Collection of cores and sediments from the eastern Mediterranean

Looking for a specimen?

The Ocean bottom deposit collection is being digitised

Senior Curator in Charge

Dr Giles Miller

Any questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.

Collections on the move

We have set out on an ambitious programme to develop a new science and digitisation centre. As we prepare for the move, access to some collections will be affected. 

Find out more and sign up to our newsletter to receive updates on changes to collections access, relevant news and opportunities to get involved.