Located in the Science Building, the interdisciplinary microscopy lab went online in fall 2008. This lab includes 12 student stations, 10 petrographic microscopes, eight stereo microscopes, a comparison scope bridge, and two research-grade microscopes.
The room has been outfitted with a computer teaching station, a projector, a whiteboard, new furniture, and an air conditioner, which is necessary to reduce the risk of heat-related damage to the delicate mechanisms in the microscopes.
The petrographic microscopes enable geologists to look at thin slices of rock (typically 0.03 millimeters) at magnifications ranging from 40x to 400x. These microscopes are compound polarizing microscopes that filter and bend light rays, revealing different minerals as different colors. The colors make it possible for researchers to identify the mineral. The magnification also reveals other characteristics of the rock, which in turn enables geologists to decode its history and thereby reveal something of the earth’s 4-billion-year-old story.