Lapidary Facility

of the

Geology & Geophysics Department


The primary purpose of the Lapidary Facility is to prepare rock samples for petrographic, mineralogical, and geochemical analyses for classroom and research use. The facility also provides a wide range of services for researchers and faculty throughout the University system, the greater Honolulu community and, occasionally, the national community. There is no other facility in the State that affords the quality of lapidary products required for scientific research. The facility provides the researcher with the most economical recourse to special handling of delicate and unique materials. It also provides the user with the opportunity to interact with the technician, JoAnn Sinton, during preparation of materials and thus be assured that their needs will be met. The Lapidary Facility is available as a self-service facility for researchers, faculty, and students throughout the University system and JoAnn Sinton provides training in lapidary procedures for users.

Equipment: Several types of rock saws and both automated and manual lapping instruments and a variety of polishing supplies and equipment.

(Click on images to enlarge)



Polishing Equipment

Polishing equipment in the Lapidary Facility for the fabrication of polished microprobe mounts and doubly polished thin-sections of meteorites.

Small saw

One of the small saws available in the Lapidary Facility.



Products: Covered or polished "standard"rock thin-sections, precision-lapped to uniform thickness (0.03 mm 1 mm, or to specification), grain mounts, polished microprobe mounts, polished over-sized thin sections, and doubly-polished samples for FTIR analyses - all available at very competitive rates ($10 per covered section, $20 per polished mount). (Click on images to enlarge)


Tonalite thin section

Thin-section (crossed nicols) of a tonalite (scale: 2.7 mm across).

Thin section of Gabbro

Thin-section (crossed nicols) of a gabbro (scale: 2.7 mm across).

Peridotite thin section

Thin-section (crossed nicols) of a peridotite (scale: 2.7 mm across).

Thin section of Serpentinized peridotite

Thin-section (crossed nicols) of a serpentinized peridotite with a vein of chrysotile (scale: 2.7 mm across).


Additional services: In addition to the production of thin-sections and various types of polished mounts, the facility can provide sample preparation services including orientation of samples, sawing of thin section billets from rock samples, doubly polished rock thin sections, highly polished rock slabs and other lapidary services for use in teaching, display and analysis.

Special handling is also available and varies with the needs of the users. For example:

Friable samples can be impregnated with epoxy prior to preparation

Small volume samples can be mounted prior to preparation

Delicate structures or textural relationships to encasing materials (as with archeological artifacts) can be preserved

Handling of meteoritic materials requires special sawing techniques and the preservation of as much of these rare materials as possible is always a priority. (Click on image to enlarge)

Thin section of a carbonaceouse chondrite

Combined x-ray elemental maps in Mg (red), Ca (green) and Al Ka (blue) of the CR (Renazzo-like) carbonaceous chondrite PCA 91082. This meteorite contains abundant metal-rich porphyritic chondrules and rare Ca, Al-rich inclusions (CAI) surrounded by a fine-grained matrix material.


Personnel: JoAnn Sinton is a highly skilled craftsman with over 20 years of experience in lapidary procedures. She has received special training and has developed her own unique handling techniques in response to specifications of scientists who to work with challenging materials. She can customize approaches for the preparation of a wide variety of materials used in researchers' experiments and has developed a proficiency in dealing with unusual samples (e.g., meteorites, archaeological artifacts, poorly consolidated sediments, low-volume samples).

Student helpers: Undergraduate Geology majors assist in the preparation of samples under supervision by JoAnn Sinton. This affords the students with experience in the handling of research materials that will help them in their future careers.

Faculty supervisor: Patty Fryer is a senior researcher in the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology

JoAnn Sinton

JoAnn Sinton preparing thin-sections for initial cutting and polishing.


Users: Researchers in the earth, ocean and planetary sciences within SOEST, and other scientists throughout the University System, including archeologists, geographers, and chemists. The Facility also serves the needs of private consultants and the community at large when requested.


School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology, University of Hawaii

Lapidary Facility of the Geology & Geophysics Department

Hawaii Institute of Geophysics Building Room 216, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone (808) 956-6495 • email

Last update Mon 14 Apr 14.

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