Micro Sampling Facility

We are equipped to micro-sample geologic materials to sub-micron scale. At present, we operate two complementary micro-sampling devices:

  1. The Microdrill

A microdrill which can sample disks of materials as small as 10 microns and as large as 2 mm in diameter. The unit is mounted on a conventional petrographic microscope. Drilling can be performed on thin or polished sections. The material is recovered in cylinder-shaped solid pieces. We use this to sample mineral grains as well as glass inclusions from mantle-derived rocks. We have successfully drilled silica-rich glass inclusions from peridotite xenoliths and measured their oxygen isotopic compositions.


  1. The Micromill

Former student
Erin Rosenberg viewing a sample on the micromill


This product, which is manufactured by Merchantek-NewWave Research, is truly the state of the art in high-resolution micro sampling. The Micromill can extract materials as small as 1/4 micron. We use this instrument to recover sample power for chemical and isotopic analysis. The combination of submicron stage resolution and positional accuracy, real-time video observation and a custom designed software system allows for sampling of complex crystalline materials. One of the most important features is the computer routine for interpolation subsampling paths and on screen display of digitized and interpolated sampling paths. This allows the sampling to be conducted automatically on pre-determined paths, no matter how complicated. Transmitted and reflected light microscopy can be used for sampling. We are using the Micromill to primarily to sample inclusion-free garnet fractions for Sm-Nd isotopic analyses.


The micro-sampling laboratory is located in Gould-Simpson Room 539, and is open to any interested users on campus. Please contact Dr. Mihai Ducea for further details. Supported by NSF Grant 0140607.


This page was last updated January 4, 2005. Questions or Comments Mail to mducea@geo.arizona.edu