Late Night Fun in the Petrology Lab
The Petrology Laboratory is one of the favorite evening hangouts of New Paltz geology students. Petrology is the study of the Earth's rocks, including their composition, distribution, and origin. Each week the students in Dr. Vollmer's Petrology class get a new suite of thin sections to study and describe, such as granites, gabbros, or rhyolites, which come from many different tectonic settings.
The rocks are specially prepared using diamond saws and grinders, and ground down to 30 microns (0.3 mm) so they are transparent to light. The students are assigned individual research grade polarized light microscopes (PLMs), which they have access to at all times for their personal use.
In addition to standard rock suites collected from across North America, and research collections where they help on faculty projects, each student is trained by Technical Assistant Donald Hodder to prepare their own thin sections so they can work on an individualized project. The students each collect rock samples of their choice, and prepare and analyze the thin sections.
Photographs a-f by C.J. Hartwell. Photomicrographs g-i by M. Cline, width of views are approximately 5-10 mm.