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Putting the Earth back in Earth and Space Sciences - an overhaul of the ESS student rock lab.

Earth and Space Sciences








Rock sample preparation is central to geological and geochemical research. Rocks need to be cut and polished for microscope examination, mineral identification and chemical analyses. Samples need to be crushed for mineral separation, and for chemical and isotopic analysis. With key faculty retirements in the past two decades, the Earth and Space Sciences sample preparation labs where these tasks would be carried out have fallen into disrepair. The main rock pulverizer burned out in 2018 and cannot be repaired. The jaw crusher can no longer be adjusted. Since 2018, students needing to grind rocks for their research have been paying geotechnical companies to do the work, or traveling to use rock preparation labs at CWU or WWU. Similar problems apply to rock cutting and polishing - the 40-year-old rock saws fail intermittently and epoxy impregnation equipment for fragile samples no longer works. Old equipment, such as the rock saws, does not meet modern safety standards. Fieldwork and rock sample collecting have picked up again after COVID, and new professors in the department are recruiting undergraduate and graduate students who need these facilities for their research. The department has cleaned out the rock lab space, and we are requesting STF funds to equip it with new rock crushing equipment, two new rock saws, and thin-section-making equipment. ESS will stock the lab with consumables and commit to maintaining the new equipment.


The department will set up an online booking system for the individual pieces of equipment in the student rock lab, accessible through the ESS website.This will prevent scheduling conflicts, ensure EHS training compliance, and track usage for reporting (below) and maintenance purposes.

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Learn about the Student Technology Fee and the proposal process by attending a Workshop led by our staff and receive 1:1 support with your proposal.


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