Rocks and Minerals through the Microscope

tutor: Mike Horne FGS

for the Centre for Life Long Learning

University of Hull

This course provided an opportunity for students to discover the exciting world of rocks and minerals as they appear through the microscope. Students used equipment that is not normally available to the amateur and specimens from the University's collection, to reach a deeper understanding of the rocks and minerals.

thin section

topics covered incuded:

Introduction to the main classes of rock types.

Rock textures in hand specimen.

How to prepare thin sections.

How to use a polarising microscope.

The optical properties of minerals visible using a polarising microscope - crystal shape, colour, birefringence, pleochroism, etc.

The common rock forming minerals in thin section, such as quartz, feldspar, micas, calcite, etc. and some rarer minerals.

The optical properties of rocks - mineralogy, texture, grain size, etc.

Some of the more common rock types - such as granite, basalt, slate, gneiss, marble, limestone, and sandstones. etc.

Each meeting normally consisted of one hour of lectures/talks with the aid of slides, OHP, video-microscope, and demonstrations; followed by one hour of practical work, with personal advice from the tutor, using specimens and thin sections in the University collection.

Students were asked to keep a record of the rocks they studied and write a report on one of the topics covered in the class. More experienced students asked to undertake a project on an aspect the subject that interested them.

Recommended reading: (copies of this book and others were available in a Book Box)

W S Mackenzie & A E Adams 1994, Rocks and Minerals in Thin Section

The course consisted of ten Wednesday evening Meetings from 7 - 30pm until 9 - 30pm at the University of Hull, Department of Geography. The course was run in Spring 2000, Spring 2003, Spring 2006, Spring 2009 and Spring 2012

Describing minerals in thin sections

Properties of common minerals in thin section

chart for recording observations

notes for Rocks and Minerals course

Suggested reading:

Mackenzie WS & A E Adams 1994. A colour atlas of Rocks and minerals in thin section. Manson Publishing, London. isbn 1874545170

Harker A 1954. Petrology for students - an introduction to the study of rocks under the microscope (4th edn) Cambridge University Press.

Battey - Mineralogy for students (QE363.2 BAT)

Hamblin W E 1989. The Earth's Dynamic Systems

Kerr - Optical Mineralogy (QE369.06 KER)

Nesse W D, 1991. Introduction to optical mineralogy, 2nd. ed, Oxford University Press

Perkins and Henke, 2000, Minerals in thin section, Prentice Hall.

Stephen C. Porter, Jeffrey Park, Brian J. Skinner 2003 The Dynamic Earth: An Introduction to Physical Geology. 648 pp and CDROM; John Wiley and Sons

Phillips - Optical Mineralogy: the non-opaque minerals (QE369.06 PHI)

Press F & Siever R 1994 Understanding Earth

Rotherby D A 2001 - Teach yourself volcanoes. Hodder & Stoughton, London. 266pp isbn 0340790474 UKL 8.99.

Smith H G 1956 (revised by M K Wells) - Minerals and the microscope. Thomas Murby & Co., London.

Wood, Elizabeth A. Crystals and Light Dover Publications, Inc. New York, ISBN. 0486234312

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copyright Mike Horne - October 2016

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