Tools Used by a Mineralogist

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Our earth is made up of rocks, ores and minerals. Mineralogists go deep into the classification of minerals, studying their physical, chemical and optical structures and properties, their crystal forms and their locations. Mineralogy is a highly developed science using very sophisticated methods and instruments for testing and investigation. A few of the basic tools that have always been used by mineralogists are the reflecting goniometer, the petrographic microscope and X-ray apparatus.

Goniometer

The invention of goniometer was the first significant tool available to scientists for studying crystal angles. Carangeot invented the first goniometer. Today positioning goniometers can rotate an object on a fixed axis in space to facilitate this study. Some goniometers allow two models to be mounted on x and y configurations and orbit around the same point.

Petrographic Microscope

The petrographic microscope was developed and used by mineralogists in the 19th century to study the optical properties and crystallography of minerals and to define and examine various refractive indices. Today advanced technology has made available superior and sophisticated petrographic microscopes. A petrographic microscope uses polarized light microscopy. For basic study purposes, the normal microscope can be modified for use, depending upon the requirement, by adding a polarizer filter beneath the sample and installing a circular rotating stage with vernier scales. An analyzer is another high performance objective lens added between the object and eyepiece to enhance visual performance.

Other Instruments

Mineral studies involve both extensive field trips and laboratory experiments. During a field trip, a mineralogist collects rock samples and specimens. He uses different tools such as hammer and chisel to break open a rock, steel picks to dig in the ground or drills to create a hole along the surface of a rock. In the laboratory, a mineralogist uses pipettes, test tubes, a Bunsen burner and stand, and clamps to analyze rock samples.

Modern-Day Instruments

Modern-day geologists use a lot of sophisticated technology and applications. They use remote sensing and satellite sensing instruments to gather data and extensive applications and models developed with various software to extrapolate the data and conduct experiments.The laboratory is also equipped with sophisticated scanners, and advanced multimedia and visual technologies.

Other Tools

Mineralogists use various pocket tools such as garden claws and ice picks for extracting specimens. Some prefer plastic tools or coat hangers. A long screwdriver, for example, is very useful tool in retrieving rock crystal quartz from deep inside the pocket. Another important tool is a portable diamond saw used to extract a specimen without damage. It includes a small diamond saw that is powered by a battery. Portable diamond saws normally make a cut about 1 inch deep around the crystal.

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