Discover our Collections

Browse our full range of rock types native to Earth and beyond


The rocks in the Virtual Microscope are presented as a series of collections to make them easy to browse. Our biggest collection is called the UKVM and consists of over 100 rocks from the United Kingdom, digitised as an open educational resource with JISC funding.

The Collections are the core of the Virtual Microscope project: each one a unique, open educational resource created by The Open University in collaboration with one or more partners.  Every Collection gives you access to virtual thin sections – and in some cases virtual hand specimens as well – of a range of samples for you to study as if using a specialist petrological microscope. You can observe the properties, size, shape, proportion and colour of minerals in the sample, as well as textures and microstructures, piecing together clues to the rock’s history – or just marvelling at the interplay of colours and patterns.

You will find all the Collections on this page but you can also search through all available samples (from whatever Collection) by using the search feature in the Explore section.

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UK Virtual Microscope
Apollo Lunar Missions
British & Irish Meteorites
Cabinet of Curiosities
Portrait of an elderly Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin's Rocks
Cornish Mineral Heritage
Irish Universities GeoLab
Lunar Meteorites
Martian Meteorites
Metalliferous Ores
Rocky upland plateau with a view of distant mountains
National Nature Reserves
OU module rocks
St Austell Granite