Thin Section and Sample Preparation Facility

The Sample Preparation facility in the School of GeoSciences, is an in-house facility offering a wide range of sample impregnation, cutting, grinding, separation and polishing services for the preparation of geological samples. The expertise and services are also available for the preparation of other materials.

Services Available


  • Ordinary (transmitted light) thin sections sizes 26x76mm and 51x76mm.
  • Polished thin sections sizes 25x48mm and 1" diameter.
  • Polished resin blocks, hot or cold cast, 1" diameter.
  • Demountable fluid inclusion wafers 24x48mm.
  • Blue dyed resin impregnation is available.
  • Colloidal silica polishing is also available.

Polished thin sections and resin blocks can be polished with either diamond  or aluminium oxide compounds. These services are available to customers from within and outwith the University of Edinburgh, see  charges  (secured) page for prices


Preparation equipment.

  • Logitech LP50 lapping machine.
  • Buehler beta with vector polishing head.
  • Buehler metaserv with autopol polishing head.
  • Logitech CS10 saw.
  • Buehler petrothin cutter/grinder.
  • Kulzer technomat pressure vessel.
  • Buehler simplimet 1000 hot mounting press.



Mineral Separation Equipment.

We offer the potential to separate minerals (eg apatite, olivine,  zircon) from crushed rocks based on their density and magnetic properties. The following procedures are suitable for rocks that have been crushed and sieved to <1mm in size.

Separation facilities include:

  • A Wilfley table which separates minerals according to their density and works well for grains that have been sieved between >250 and 1000microns. For finer fractions (<250 microns) a separate deck is available.
  • Magnetic separation of minerals depends on the their magnet susceptibility. We use a Franz magnetic separator with variable slope and tilt at different currents to separate specific mineral fractions.
  • Finally we use a heavy liquid for the final separation. We combine the sample with LST Fastfloat/Sodium Polytungstate for separation based on the minerals density.



Mike Hall

Contact details



Grant Institute School of GeoSciences James Hutton Road University of Edinburgh EDINBURGH

Post Code


This article was published on 17 May, 2018