The hunt for zircons

A general overview — How do we know the age of a rock?

Why zircons?

Step 1: Crushing the rocks

Rock pieces collected in the field for geochronology analysis.
Left: A jaw crusher; Right: A disk mill, also known as pulverizer.

Step 2: Shake it off!

Wilfley table in action. The pulverized sample was placed on the table top to the right.
Magnetic materials collected after performing gravity separation on the sample.
Left flask was filtering the heavies, while the right flask was filtering the heavy-heavies.
Drying up the heavy-heavies under the heating lamp.

Step 3: Sieving

Sieving the heavy-heavies using the №70 mesh.

Step 4: Free fall separation

Magnetic field of 2.7Amp attracted magnetic minerals at the bottom of the vial.

Step 5: the Initial Frantz

The Frantz in action: classifying the samples into non-magnetic ones (at the back) and magnetic ones (at the front).

Step 6: Heavy Liquids Separation

Zircons are denser than other felsic minerals (quartz and feldspar) and hence will sink at the bottom of the tube.
How the samples looked after heavy liquids separation under the microscope. This clearly tells the necessity of final Frantz to extract zircon grains.

Step 7: the Final Frantz

My precious teeny-weeny bit of samples after the final Frantz.

Step 8: Hand-picking Zircons

Left: A general set up of the hand-picking zircons under the microscope. Right: I am supposed to picked the best quality grains into the black circle. (Two circles to learn transporting grains from one place to another for the first time.)
Left: Toolkit for picking zircons (a DIY pipette, a tweezer and a rake). Right: A bed of zircon grains! (Forgive my skills in taking photos through the microscope.)
Zircons that I first picked.
Cataloging samples for archive purposes.

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