Economic Geology Laboratory

  • Dr. Thakurta uses his lab equipment via a desktop computer.

    The Economic Geology Laboratory's Sulfur Isotope Laboratory is the only one of its kind in Michigan. This laboratory is used for analyzing sulfide mineral samples from a wide variety of rock types.

  • A pressed tin capsule for loading powdered sulfide mineral samples measured in micrograms.

    A pressed tin capsule for loading powdered sulfide mineral samples measured in micrograms.

  • Rows of tagged samples lined up on a counter top.

    Drill-core samples from exploration and mining locations used for petrographic analyses.

  • Two long countertops in laboratory with  samples of rocks displayed on both

    Sample examination work tables in the laboratory are used for student projects.

  • Dr. thakurta operates machinery in his lab.

    The Costech Elemental Analyzer with a zero-black auto-sampler on top is used for combustion of powdered sulfide samples to produce sulfur dioxide gas which is conveyed to the mass-spectrometer for isotopic analysis.

The Economic Geology Laboratory is housed in Haenicke Hall and supervised by Dr. Joyashish Thakurta. This laboratory is part of the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences at Western Michigan University, which is located in nearby Rood Hall.

Recent projects

  • Surficial Geological Mapping: Iron Mountain 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Dickinson County, Michigan, 2016
  • Geochemical characterization of sulfide mineralization at Eagle and Eagle East intrusions in Marquette County, Michigan, 2015
  • Bedrock Geological Mapping: Norway 7.5 Minute Quadrangle Dickinson County and Bessemer Quadrangle, Gogebic County, 2015
  • Surficial Geological Mapping: Vulcan 7.5 Minute Quadrangle, Dickinson County, Michigan, 2015


Dr. Joyashish Thakurta using a Petrological microscope.Petrological microscope: This new lab is equipped with a Leica DM750P petrographic microscope with transmitted and reflected light capabilities. A 2.5 megapixel MC120 HD camera is attached to the microscope, which connects the microscope to a 60 inch Toshiba HDTV monitor and desktop computer. The computer uses Leica LAS-EZ software to acquire and process images from the microscope; it uses Adobe Illustrator for other graphic designing work. The computer is connected to a Canon color printer and scanner.

Micro-drilling stationMicro-drilling station: The lab has a protected enclosure equipped with sample processing items such as a Dremel micro-drilling tool with diamond drill bits and small sample crushing equipment. The lab also has large counter-top spaces for display and examination of drill core and field rock samples and cabinets for storing rock samples.

Isotope ratio mass spectrometerIsotope ratio mass spectrometer: A Thermo-Fisher Delta-V isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) was installed in July 2014. The mass spectrometer is connected to a Conflo-VI universal continuous flow interface and to a Costech Elemental Analyzer (EA), model 4010. The IRMS, conflo and EA are operated from a dedicated desktop computer, which is connected to a laser printer. The ISODAT software is used to operate the instruments. The instrument has been configured to measure δ34S values from powdered samples of sulfide minerals. A zero-blank auto-sampler is used to convey samples loaded in pressed tin capsules into the furnace inside the elemental analyzer. There are 50 sample positions in the carousel of the auto-sampler.

MicrobalanceMicrobalance: A Sartorius Cubis MSE3.6P000DM microbalance is used load powdered sulfide samples into micro-pressed tin capsules. The sample weights in tin capsules usually range between 100 and 400 micrograms.


Other resources

The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences maintains a rock cutting, polishing and sample preparation lab. The College of Arts and Sciences at Western Michigan University provides technical support for the operation of laboratory resources and maintains a machine shop. The office of Facilities Management at Western Michigan University provides additional services for lab maintenance. The University has computer labs for student use. These computers have license to the ArcGIS software package which will be used for the creation of geological maps.


  • Determination of δ34S values from powdered sulfide samples: $50 per sample
  • Micro-drilling and sample preparation: $20 per sample