Thin Section Laboratory

Our Thin Section Laboratory is currently closed but will remain open for rock saw usage if you are already trained.  For the remainder of this summer 2021, recent MS graduate, Kelsey Livingston (, will continue to help manage our Thin Section Lab on a part-time basis, keeping access available to the rock saws and other peripherals, with oversight.  In the Fall, we will open a permanent full-time Laboratory Coordinator position and convene a search committee with interested GGE faculty at that time. 

Below please find some valuable teaching resources for online thin section and rock sample identification. A huge thank you to all who collaborated on these projects.

(UK Virtual Microscope Desktop Software and Datasets

(UK Virtual Microscope for Web Browser)

(rockPTX Thin Section Scans

(rockPTX Video Atlas of Minerals in Thin Section

(rocksandminerals’ Sketchfab page of 3D Hand Samples)


The Thin Section Laboratory, located in the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering, provides sample preparation services for students, faculty, and other researchers at CSM, as well as federal agencies and industry clients. Outfitted with a host of slab saws, trim saws, grinders, epoxy impregnation stations, lapping machines, and polishing machines, the lab is equipped to produce a wide variety of thin sections and related mounts for geoscience investigation. The price sheet below lists our current capabilities.

The preparation of thin sections represents a fundamental step required for the study of minerals and rocks in geoscience. As such, the majority of the equipment in the Thin Section Lab is available for use by properly trained CSM students. Undergraduate and graduate students also work in the lab and assist in the production of thin sections.

Lapping Machine

Equipped with Logitech semi-automated lapping and polishing machines, the Thin Section Lab is able to hold roughly a one-micron flatness tolerance during the critical phases of thin section preparation. Our production methods result in precise target sample thickness and the ability to directly measure sample thickness throughout the production process. Our thorough billet preparation techniques ensure excellent mineral retention, and multi-step diamond polishing yields a superb polish.





Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Colorado School of Mines
1516 Illinois Street
Golden, CO 80401

Kelsey Livingston
Laboratory Coordinator
Berthoud Hall 147

  • Rush Orders: One week, limit six rock samples. Please inquire for availability.
  • Priority Orders: Two weeks, limit six rock samples.
  • Standard Orders: 4-6 weeks, limit 24 samples for Mines students.
  • Please confirm your order with the laboratory prior to sending samples.
  • A signed order form (provided below) must be delivered to the lab before work can begin on your samples.
Equipment Usage Policies

Thin Section Laboratory Sign In and Equipment Use Policy

  • If you are using any of the saws or polishing equipment in this lab, you must sign in and out on one of the two sign in sheets located near the equipment.
  • You must complete the basic training prior to using each piece of equipment, and your training must be recorded by the laboratory coordinator. Please contact the laboratory coordinator to schedule a brief certification and documentation session.
  • A Google Calendar is available for the trim saws once your training has been documented. Please use this signup method to book time on the saws.
  • The laboratory coordinator MUST be present while you are working with any of the rock saws or grinders. If you would like to use the equipment outside of normal lab operating hours, please contact the laboratory coordinator. Please stop by the office (147A) and say hello prior to beginning your work.
  • All equipment and work stations must be thoroughly cleaned before you leave. Please report any misuse, broken/malfunctioning equipment, unsafe work practices, or laboratory improvement suggestions to the laboratory coordinator.
Service External Rate* CSM Rate
Polished Standard Thin Section (1 micron diamond polish) $                       40.00 $                         22.00
Polished 2″x3″ Thin Section (1 micron diamond polish) $                     100.00 $                         50.00
Polished Ultra-Thin Section (1 micron diamond polish) $                       45.00 $                         26.00
Doubly-Polished Thick Section (0.25 micron diamond polish) $                       70.00 $                         35.00
Hybrid Doubly-Polished Thick Section (permanent mount) $                       50.00 $                         26.00
Quick Plates(unpolished thick sections) $                       30.00 $                         15.00
The Quick and Dirty $                       25.00 $                         15.00
Neutron Bombardment Preparation $                       70.00 $                         35.00
Lazer Track Mounted Polish $                       50.00 $                         30.00
Full Polish of Provided Sample (1 micron polish) $                       20.00 $10 – $15 (# samples)
Dual Carbonate Stain (Calite & Fe-Carbonate) $                         5.00 $                           2.00
Blue Dye Epoxy Impregnation $                         6.00 $                           4.00
Blue Dye Epoxy Impregnation of 2″x3″ Billets $                         8.00 $                           6.00
Clear Epoxy Impregnation $                         5.00 $                           3.00
Excessive Surface Impregnation (Only if Necessary) $                         3.00 $                           2.00
Epoxy Grain Mount (Blue or Clear) $                       10.00 $                           7.00
Billet Cutting $                         5.00 $                           5.00
Oriented Thin Section (Add) $                         1.00 $                           1.00
 0.25 Micron Diamond Polish (Add) $                         4.00 $                           2.00
 0.005 Colloidal Alumina Polish (Add) $                         4.00 $                           2.00
 Hand Sample Polishing (Per Hour) $                       45.00 $                         30.00
 Bulk Rock Cutting or Slabbing (Per Hour) $                       45.00 $                         30.00

Rush Orders  x100% (1 week turnaround)

Priority Orders x50% (two week turnaround)

*All external orders are subject to an additional 8.5% university overhead charge.
Prices effective through June, 2019.
Additional services added as methods are perfected.
PDF order form available upon request.
Please send all inquiries to:
Department Manager        E:        T: (303) 273-3978