Analytical Facilities

SEM image of Carlin-type gold ore  

SEM image of Carlin-type gold ore from the Barrick Gold’s Turquoise Ridge mine.  Completely decalcified limestone-mudstone now composed of hydrothermal quartz (Q), kaolinite (K), and fine-grained gold-bearing arsenian pyrite (P), the main site of gold in Carlin-type gold deposits.


New SEM Microbeam Lab

Bill Wilson, one of the pioneers of Nevada’s ongoing gold boom, staked some of the first claims in what is now the Cortez Gold Mine and owned and ran one of first commercial heap leach mining operations at the Windfall Gold Mine. Through his Wilson Family Foundation, Bill generously gave back to Nevada with a $750,000 gift to establish a new Microbeam Lab at the Mackay School of Earth Sciences and Engineering. The Microbeam Lab opened in 2014 and hosts two new JEOL scanning electron microscopes (SEM).

Visit SEM Microbeam Lab web site


JEOL JSM-6010LA    

The JEOL JSM-6010LA was a winner of the 2011 R&D100 Award from R&D Magazine. It is a compact, self-contained, portable SEM that still has the capabilities expected of a modern tungsten filament SEM. It resolves down to less than 10 nm and its magnification ranges from 5X to 300,000X. The instrument also includes an embedded energy dispersive X-ray spectrometer (EDS) for elemental analysis and mapping. It includes both high and low vacuum capabilities; thus, not only can it analyze typical geologic samples, but it also biologic samples. However, a key differentiator of the 6010LA is the ease of how one can interact with this SEM. Control of the 6010LA is possible through a multi-touch screen interface that puts the SEM’s applications at ready access. Typical tasks such as automatic SEM condition setup and menus are based on sample types, including 1) metals/minerals, 2) biological samples, 3) organic specimens, 4) inorganic specimens, and 5) general purpose conditions. The ease of use will make this SEM very accessible to a wide range of users.


JSM-7100FT FESEM    

The JSM-7100FT FESEM is a state of the art Schottky field emissions SEM that will be geared toward the advanced users. It provides both high resolution and very high and stable probe currents for optimum imaging and analytical performance at high vacuum. Its spatial resolution is sub-nanometer and analytical characterization at the sub-100nm scale, which is accomplished through the combination of large beam currents with a small probe size at any accelerating voltage. Magnification ranges from 25X to 1,000,000X. With the integration of in-the-lens acceleration and deceleration of the electron beam, low kV aberrations are reduced, yielding higher resolution at the lowest accelerating voltages. Beam deceleration decreases charging while imaging non-conductive specimens, improves spot size at low kV, and enhances surface topography.  For example, nanometer-sized pores in shale can be imaged in beam deceleration mode. The 7100FT will be equipped with several analytical accessories including a Deben panchromatic cathodoluminescence (CL) detector, an Oxford Aztec EDS system with a 50 mm silicon drift detector, and an Oxford NordlysMax2 electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) camera. The Oxford Aztec Microanalysis System includes all the tools required to perform qualitative and quantitative analysis, image capture, and X-ray spectral mapping and line scanning. For example, it will have the ability to automatically search a polished thin section for electrum or native gold grains.

For more information contact:
            John McCormack (, or
            John Muntean (

CL image of quartz vein

CL image of a quartz vein showing several generations of quartz growth.  Acquired using a Deben panchromatic CL detector attached to a JEOL 7100FT FESEM.


Nevada Stable Isotope Lab

Facilities are available in the Department of Geological Sciences and Engineering to perform stable isotope analyses (C, H, O, N and S).

For more information, see: , or contact
Simon Poulson (


Other Analytical Equipment