Transmitted Light Microscopy

Transmitted Light Microscopy

This setup is the most common for geological thin section viewings. The light source comes from below the sample, shines upwards through a polariser, then through the sample (hence the name "transmitted") before reaching the eye piece.

Thin sections

Reflected Light Microscopy

Reflected Light Microscopy

aka. incident light / epi-illumination / metallurgical microscopy

Used mainly to identify ore minerals. In this microscope setup, the light source comes from above the mineral, hits the mineral and bounces back up into the eye piece. Essentially like a super powerful magnifying glass with lots of light.

Polished sections

I'm not sure

Why the buttons "Transmitted light" and "Reflected light" ?

Hint: If you're not sure, you're most probably using transmitted light.

This specialised website aims at helping you correctly identify minerals based on the observation of properties seen under the microscope. The observable properties of a given mineral differ depending on the choice of optical path of the light generated by the telescope. This website contains datatables of properties of minerals under two possible paths: the transmitted light path and reflected light path.

In order to bring up a meaningful table of mineral properties, you first need to choose the setup relevant to your observations.

What if I am not using a microscope to observe my minerals?

As things stand, the properties listed in the table on this website are properties meaningful only to those observing the minerals under transmitted or reflected light. We also plan to add, in the near future, a section on correctly identifying minerals when seen under the naked eye. In the mean time, there are many other websites available which provide this service. See the Sources and Resources page within the about page for a list of such websites we have found useful.

Can I get anything out of this website if I'm not observing minerals?

The Definitions page is purely theoretical, so can be explored without observing minerals. In addition, the About page has more details about the functions hosted on this website, including a page of Sources and Resources valuable to anybody wanting to learn more about geology.

I don't understand how to use the datatables properly

Try following our very short walkthrough to learn the basic functionalities of the datatables. The tutorial will run supposing you have the Transmitted setup.



If you're unsure of what a certain property means, or just simply want to browse different technical terms; the definitions page is for you. This should satisfy your curiosity from both a microscopy and geological point of view.