Optical Crystallography & Mineralogy
Introduction to crystallography, optical theory,
and the polarizing microscope. Identification of minerals in igneous
and sedimentary rocks and discussion of their structure and chemistry.
Two lectures, one lab (three hours); one term Prerequisite: ENVIR
SC 1G03 or ISCI 1A24
Time/Term Offered: Term One Fall 2012-13
Instructor: Dr. Alan Dickin
Room: General Science Building Rm. 307
Tel:(905) 525.9149 x24365
Office hours: TBA
This course is an introduction to optical mineralogy based on the use of the polarising microscope.
We begin by studying crystal systems, the principles of the behaviour of light in transparent minerals, and the use of the petrological microscope to study the optical properties of minerals. We will then make a systematic examination of the structure, chemistry and occurrence of the rock-forming minerals found in common igneous and sedimentary rocks.
Each week a microscope-based lab will build the student’s ability to use the petrographic microscope. At the end of the course, students will have acquired the practical skill of mineral identification in thin section, which can be applied to other geological problems or courses, such as Earth Sci 3K03.
All e-mail communications to the instructor must originate from McMaster e-mail accounts.
The course is structured around the labs:
0 Microscope familiarisation
1 Mineral relief (inc Becke line test)
2 Birefringence, pleochroism, extinction angle
3 Uniaxial figure
4 Biaxial figure
5 Quartz and felspars
6 Sheet silicates, oxides
7 Pyroxenes and amphiboles
8 Olivine, Calcite, Apatite, Rock description
9 Revision period
10 Lab exam
The theory lectures include the following material, but the order of presentation may be varied to keep in step with the labs:
Bonding & ion coordination
Symmetry and concept of unit cell
Light transmission through minerals
Structure, chemistry & occurrence of each mineral group
Simple phase diagrams of selected minerals
Required Text Books/Course materials:
The course textbook is Nesse, W. D. Introduction to Optical Mineralogy. This is essential.
Courseware is also required, and coloured pencils are strongly recommended for drawing minerals.
The breakdown of the grading of this course is:
30% for lab reports handed in each week (reduced credit for late work)
10% for a mid term test (Thur October 18th in normal class period)
20% for an open-book lab exam (November 19th, 20th and 23rd in normal lab periods).
40% for a closed-book written exam in December
Academic dishonesty consists of misrepresentation by deception
or by other fraudulent means and can result in serious consequences,
e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation
on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for
academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the
The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s
own or for which other credit has been obtained.
Improper collaboration in group work.
Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.
It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes
academic dishonesty. For information on the various kinds of academic
dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at http://www.mcmaster.ca/policy/Students-AcademicStudies/AcademicIntegrity.pdf
The University reserves the right to change any aspect
of this course outline.
The instructor and university reserve the right to modify elements of the course during the term. The university may change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances. If either type of modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. It is the responsibility of the student to check their McMaster email and course websites weekly during the term and to note any changes.