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Rock thin sections for polarising microscope

Posted by Trevor Boyd  
Trevor Boyd February 08, 2018 07:42PM
Hi all,

I have recently purchased an old J Swift & Sons polarising microscope and am enjoying studying the few slides I have at present.

However I would like to build my collection of these and wondered if anyone could suggest a good supplier?

I would also be keen to get some thin sections prepared of some of my local Northern Irish rocks so any suggestions of where I could get this done would be greatly appreciated too 8)

Thanks in advance

Tom Goodland February 08, 2018 09:11PM
Hi Trevor,

greetings from North Wales. I can't help you much, but i do know a retired geology lecturer here at Bangor who used to make his own thin sections. He says it's possible to get them made here in the UK, but very expensive. Don't know where though. Shame, as i'd like to have some as well.


Ben Grguric February 08, 2018 10:26PM
Hi Trevor,

If you are getting thin sections made in the UK I've found this guy to be very reasonably priced and the sections are good quality.
He may have some Northern Ireland rocks in his stock which he can make up to order, or you simply send him offcuts of yours.
A good way to start is to get a classic British petrology text such as Harker (Petrology for Students) or more recent Nockolds, Knox and Chinner (Petrology) and then seek out the well-described rocks for your own thin sections. .e.g Harker describes and illustrates dolerites from Fair Head, Antrim.

Also look out on ebay as from time to time whole sets of thin sections are sold.

Becky Coulson February 08, 2018 10:28PM
Hello Trevor,
Durham University offers the service, but I don't know the costs:

Hope you are still finding good zeolites!
Kind regards, Becky

(edited because I gave one wrong address!)

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/08/2018 10:47PM by Becky Coulson.
Dale Foster February 09, 2018 06:43AM
Camborne School of Mines also offer thin section preparation, but it costs £50 per slide.
Trevor Boyd February 09, 2018 09:19AM
Thanks everyone for your suggestions.Those links look very promising and although the Camborne School of Mines option does sound a bit expensive Dale, I will keep it as a last resort 8)

I will post back here with the results of my enquiries 8)

PS haven't managed to get out collecting those zeolites a few months now Becky....but summer is coming, so heres hoping! 8)
Antonio Romano February 09, 2018 01:15PM
Hi Trevor,

I've hundreds of thin sections mostly of metamorphic and plutonic rocks of Minas Gerais state such as granitic and gneissic rocks, amphibolite, metabasics, metaultrabasicas and metasedimentary rocks, just to donate.
I'm retiring as professor of Petrography and Mineralogy and I want to empty my cabinet. I'll take sometime to select a didatic collection and send it by mail.
If you are interested please send a PM with your address.

Trevor Boyd February 10, 2018 04:59PM
Hi Antonio, thats really kind of you, I'll send you a PM shortly 8)

For info of others I have heard back from the Durham University guys suggested by Becky above and they offer a service preparing slides for about £20-25 plus vat, which isn't too bad all things considered 8)
Ralph Bottrill February 10, 2018 09:27PM
You can make your own thin sections if you have access to basic lapidary equipment: diamond saws, grinding plates etc.
Trevor Boyd February 11, 2018 09:17AM
Thanks Ralph, ideally thats what I would love to do but unfortunately dont have the gear....yet 8)
Alysson Rowan February 11, 2018 10:24AM
Trevor: Diamond laps (which can be used flat for hand grinding) cost about £20 each on Amazon. Using them needs a bit of practice that a square diamond plate doesn't take, but they are cheap enough. The only costly bit is the saw (and I already have one of those).
Trevor Boyd February 11, 2018 12:49PM
Hi Alysson that sounds doable 8)

Can you recommend any particular type of diamond saw?

Wayne Corwin February 11, 2018 01:21PM
they sell cheep floor tile saws that can also cut rocks.
Trevor Boyd February 12, 2018 09:30AM
Thanks Wayne, will take a look at them.

Saw this one and thought it looked quite good????
Alysson Rowan February 13, 2018 02:19PM
The Beach saw arbours are very good indeed for the money.

They lack bells and whistles, but will take some home-built accessories (such as a slabbing slide) quite nicely, provided that you remember thay they are not precision saws. You will be rewarded for a careful set up of the machine (a good, solid bench location at least), and regular checks and maintenance.

They are designed for water-cooling, although they usually tolerate a LOW viscosity oil cooling. Remember that regular cleaning of the tank and filtration or replacement of the coolant is a must.

A thicker blade would also be an advantage for initial (rough) work - they are cheap enough on eBay/Amazon.
Trevor Boyd February 14, 2018 01:01PM
Thanks again Alysson - will let you know how I get on 8)

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