Recycling for a legacy: Wilbert Danner beachcombing on Wreck Beach, 1987

Officially unveiled in December 2013, the massive WR Danner mineral, gem and meteorite collection is now on display at UBC. Containing more than 2,000 individual pieces – including hundreds of gold specimens, diamond crystals, gems, meteorites and tektites from around the world – the collection is named for the late Wilbert Danner, a well-known geology professor and petrologist.

Danner began teaching at UBC in 1954, and UBC alumni fondly remember Danner combing UBC’s beaches for bottles and cans he could recycle, the proceeds of which – nearly $30,000 – funded two geological scholarships.

Danner also collected a vast number of mineral specimens for his collection, which will be housed at UBC’s newly renovated Pacific Museum of the Earth. Displays have been refurbished and an upgraded vault will showcase the museum’s more spectacular items. Also, look for the 1.5-metre-wide, digitally projected OmniGlobe, which offers an interactive view of Earth.

One of the spectacular gold specimens in the WR Danner collection

The unveiling of the Danner collection is part of the 50th-anniversary celebrations commemorating the founding of the university’s Faculty of Science, formed in 1963 when the UBC Senate approved the division of the Faculty of Arts and Science. The Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences ( EOAS) was formed with the amalgamation of the Geological Sciences department, the Oceanography department and the geophysics component of Geophysics and Astronomy in 1996, and the addition of Atmospheric Sciences in 2000.

EOAS moved into the new Earth Sciences Building in December 2012. The 17,500-square-metre building unites many of UBC’s natural resource research groups in collaborative lab spaces, and incorporates a lecture theatre complex and customized computer labs designed for interactive learning. The building uses more than 1,300 tons of B.C.-sourced and -engineered crosslaminated timber; each ton of dry wood products sequesters sufficient carbon to keep between 1.8 and 2.0 tons of carbon dioxide from being formed.

Geosciences on display: The OmniGlobe at UBC’s newly renovated Pacific Museum of the Earth. | UBC Faculty of Science

The Danner collection and the OmniGlobe will provide new outreach opportunities and resources for teaching earth sciences, enriching the experiences of visitors. Meanwhile, the Earth Sciences Building provides modern learning spaces for students and leading-edge laboratories for hundreds of researchers, ensuring earth sciences remain relevant for both earth scientists and the general public.