Thin Section Laboratory

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.

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 for Web Browser)

(rockPTX Thin Section Scans)

(rockPTX Video Atlas of Minerals in Thin Section)

(rocksandminerals’ Sketchfab page of 3D Hand Samples)


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.





Kelsey Livingston
Laboratory Coordinator
Berthoud Hall 147


Colorado School of Mines
Kelsey Livingston
GGE Department
1301 19th Street
Golden, CO 80401

  • Rush Orders: Two weeks, limit 6 rock samples. Please inquire about availability.
  • Priority Orders: Four weeks, limit 6 rock samples.
  • Standard Orders: Eight to ten weeks, limit 24 samples for Mines students.
  • Please confirm your order with the laboratory prior to sending samples.
  • A signed order form (below) must be delivered to the lab before work can begin on 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 the sign-in sheet located inside the door.
  • Proper PPE and lab attire is required of all users in the lab.
  • You must complete basic training prior to using each piece of equipment and training must be documented by the laboratory coordinator. Please contact Kelsey Livingston to schedule your training.
  • An Outlook calendar is available for the saws and other lab equipment. When your training is complete, you will have access to the schedule. Book lab time only during normal lab hours. If there is a scheduling conflict, someone will reach out.
  • The laboratory coordinator or another employee must be present while you are working with any equipment. Please stop into the office, 147A, and say hello before you begin working.
  • There is no operation of equipment outside of normal lab hours.
  • All equipment and workstations must be 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) 273-3824