Considering the fine-grained nature of the minerals that constitute a rock, the usage of optical microscopes in the identification of minerals and their textural relations is paramount in mineralogical investigations. The Mineralogy Division is equipped with various stereo- and petrographic microscopes.
Polished sections as well as thin sections of rock or ore are analysed either by transmitted or reflected light. The description of rocks using an optical microscope is referred to as petrography.
Petrography includes assessments of deposition and replacements of ore minerals, the order of crystallisation of ores in a mineral vein and the characterisation of mineral phases of textural relations. Specific mineral phases are optically identified, physically counted and quantified.
Image analysis is available and an Olympus BX41 Petrographic microscope with a dedicated camera is utilized in conjunction with the Stream Essentials© software package.
Petrographic description of rocks, supported by X-ray diffraction and bulk chemical assays, form a major part of the activities of the Mineralogy Division.