Sample Preparation


We have a well equipped sample preparation laboratory that is able to produce high quality thin sections up to 50 x 75 mm in size. Typically, terrestrial rocks are cut using a trim saw, lapped and then mounted on glass slides before being finished by hand. If samples are to be used for reflected light work or micro-analysis (electron microprobe, laser ICP-MS or NanoSIMS) then the final stage of preparation involves aluminium oxide or diamond polishing. Extraterrestrial samples follow a similar preparation procedure, although a wafer saw is used to minimise sample loss and special precautions are employed to avoid contamination. Click here to see some of our equipment. We also have samples that have been prepared on Pelcon thin section making equipment.

When Prep Goes Wrong

Thin sections for virtual microscope work have to be the best of the best, but in all honesty the perfect section does not exist. Unlike a conventional thin section, it is possible for a virtual microscope “section” to be seen by 10,000 of our students, so tremendous effort goes into producing quality sections for them. The rejection rate is sometimes high. In the course of this work we have seen quite a few things go wrong - not only with our sections, but also with those provided by our partners. Click here to see some artefacts and contamination we have “discovered”. They are presented here for those microscopists who may be unfamiliar with what they look like.

Andy Tindle - 1977

Kay Green and Michelle Higgins - 2010