The rock preparation workshop at the University of Plymouth is equipped to deal with all aspects and scales of rock preparation in support of our teaching and research laboratories, from quickly processing large volumes of rock to mounting individual grains of volcanic ash. We can split, cut, drill, core, crush, mill, grind, lap and polish most types of geological material to the level of accuracy that is required for research in Earth science.
Within the workshop, we undertake some key activities, including but not limited to:
- thin section making for both teaching and research purposes using a Logitech GTS1 saw, a brand new Logitech LP50 lapping machine, a Logitech PM5 polisher and a Buehler Vibromet 2 chemomechanical polisher
- mounting samples such as fossils, ores, meteorites or other geological material in epoxy resin using a new Fistreem vacuum oven, particularly in support of the Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre within our faculty
- cutting precious materials using a brand new Buehler IsoMet 1000 saw with ultra-thin blades, where minimising both the material lost as well as the deformation imparted during the preparation of the sample is vital
- milling of all kinds of geological and non-geological material in preparation for geochemical analyses, using an ASC jaw crusher and a Retsch RS100 puck mill with brand new SiAlON bowl parts
- coring and cutting of rocks for palaeomagnetic analyses using diamond-tipped, non-magnetic bits and blades respectively
- initial preparation of fossils using an airpen before further work in our research laboratory.
SoGEES Fitzroy Earth Science Laboratories
Designed to undertake a range of geological processing and analytical techniques, the Earth science research laboratories were opened in 2006 and consist of three principle areas. Wet and dry processing areas, analytical lab space, and a microscopy and imaging lab.
The wet lab is equipped to carry out sample processing for sediment analysis, micro- and macro-palaeontology, and geochemistry. From crushing and sieving, to acid digestion and solvent sample processing, all aspects of sample preparation can be undertaken here.
The dry lab has a focus on analysis, with a range of high power petrological microscopes, low power binocular microscopes, and biological microscopes available. With wireless internet connection and personal storage space both project students and staff utilise this area.
Next door is our dedicated Microscopy and Imaging Lab, designed for high level microscope work and imaging, as well as housing our two microbalances for precision weighing.
We have a number of different microscopes and imaging equipment in the lab including our Nikon Eclipse LV100POL providing transmission and reflectance microscopy for polished blocks, thin sections and resin mounted grains or specimens. The mounted Nikon DSFi1 digital camera and the NIS-elements imaging software enables high resolution image capture. Our second Nikon Eclipse 50iPOL is dedicated to Cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy. Mounted with an Optical Cathodoluminescence Stage and cold-cathode electron gun (CITL Cathodoluminescence Mk 5.2), this microscope can be used in the petrographic analysis of samples. Complimenting this set up, the BioScan-1000 slide scanner, provides quick, high resolution scans of whole slides, enabling users to capture large scale images and pinpoint areas for further analysis. The lab also houses a Canon EOS 7D with 2 macro lens, the EFS 60mm and the MP-E 65mm 1-5X, for specimen photography. This camera can be mounted on to both high and low power microscopes, as well as be used on the camera stand with lighting. With dedicated imaging software for the camera, and the Helicon Focus stacking software, high resolution three dimensional images of material can be taken.
One of only seven palaeomagnetism labs in the United Kingdom our palaeomagnetism labs contain a range of geophysical implements. This facility is mainly used by lecturing and research staff but increasingly undergraduate and postgraduate students are taking the opportunity to use the equipment in their dissertations. The facility contains two Molspin Fluxgate Spinner Magnetometers, a Agico JR4 High Sensitivity Spinner Magnetometer, a Large sample Digico Spinner, a Agico KLY3s anisotropy system with high/low temperature attachments, a Molspin Minisep anisotropy system, a Agico LDA-3 AF demagnetiser with Anhysteretic Magnetiser Unit, a Molspin large sample/multi-sample demagnetiser, a MMTD1 Thermal Demagnetiser, and a Pyrox Thermal Demagnetiser. Miscellaneous equipment includes a Molspin pulse magnetizer, Helmholtz cages, Fluxgate magnetometers, Curie Balance and Magnetised probe magnetic extraction system.
The Plymouth Electron Microscopy Centre
As part of the University the research centre has access, via the Electron Microscopy Centre, to both scanning and transmission electron microscopes. These include 1) a JEOL 6100 High resolution Scanning Electron Microscope with: Oxford Instruments Cryo-stage imaging of frozen, fully hydrated specimens and a Oxford instruments Inca X-Ray micro-analysis suite providing full analytical capability, including quantitative elemental analysis and element mapping; 2) a JEOL 5600 Low Vacuum high resolution Scanning Electron Microscope which operates in conventional high vacuum and low vacuum modes; 3) a JEOL 5200 conventional Scanning Electron Microscope for general purpose microscope with full digital image acquisition/processing; 4) a JEOL 1200 high resolution 120Kv Transmission Electron Microscope with integrated digital image capture and SIS Image analysis software suite.