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Mineral Analytical Services


We can perform qualitative chemical analysis ($30 per sample), X-ray powder diffraction, and Raman spectroscopy ($40 per sample).

We offer a new, relatively inexpensive, element-ID service for minerals that we have found from personal experience to be just what is needed to settle many mineralogical questions.

Using Emission Spectroscopy to examine chemical element spectra generated in an electric arc one can identify (or rule out) key elements in minerals. Actual examples have been to distinguish with certainty between Australian Wulfenite and Stolzite by identifying the molybdenum or tungsten spectral lines. Other examples: pink Chinese morganite or apatite? in this case the chemical phosphate test gave an unequivocal answer. Banded white smithsonite or something looking like it? (Result: strong response to zinc and carbonate). We use a combination of methods becouse no method is complete.

When you can define your ID problem in terms of the presence or absence of a key element or chemical moeity we can probably help. If so we will ask you to send us a representative fragment (from a portion of the piece that does not hurt your specimen) . A small plastic bag in a regular envelope will probably suffice for analysis. Cost is $30.

X-ray powder can identify on the order of 95% of all minerals. Minerals which cannot be distinguished are species with identical structures and similar sized ions. For example, siegenite and violarite have nearly exactly the same cell parameter (+/- 0.01 A) and thus cannot be distinguished by X-ray.

Powder work requires approximately a 2 mm cube of material.

I would prefer that you send a chip of the mineral, in a plastic bag, box or gelatin capsule, which I can powder for X-ray work. Some fibrous minerals (such as zeolites) require more material (as is also the case of a mineral like oyelite). I believe that you could simply mail most such samples in a standard envelope, which is much cheaper than actually packaging the stuff.

RAMAN spectroscopy has the advantage of being completely nondestructive, but only a few hundred minerals have published patterns. For example, this is useful for identifying a perfect gem crystal since you will not damage the crystal at all in the sampling. IN this case, the entire specimen should be mailed via insured shipping, and will be returned after testing (you must pay return shipping costs).

I recommend consulting via email before sending over samples.
I could determine if X-ray will identify your sample, or possibly if RAMAN would suffice.

-Rob Lavinsky


The Arkenstone - Dr. Robert Lavinsky
PO Box 450788
Garland, TX 75045-0788
Phone 972-414-9003 "normal hours" Central Time Zone, E-Fax 413-581-0589

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