X-ray Analysis of Unknown Minerals

Dexter Perkins
University of North Dakota
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In this exercise, students use X-ray analysis to identify unknown minerals.

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This exercise is designed for a mid/upper-level undergraduate geology course on the principles of mineralogy.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Students should have knowledge of basic chemistry and of minerals equivalent to what they would learn in an introductory geology class.

How the activity is situated in the course

This activity is the 31st of 36 mineralogy exercises and is used towards the end of the course.


Content/concepts goals for this activity

  • Apply practical X-ray diffraction.
  • Use X-ray data to identify minerals and determine unit cell parameters.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

  • Learn how experimental data can be used to identify unknown samples and derive fundamental physical values.

Other skills goals for this activity

Description of the activity/assignment

In this exercise, students use X-ray analysis to identify unknown minerals. They are given two samples to grind up and X-ray, using Jade to identify them. Once the minerals are identified, students make a spreadsheet and do a series of calculations.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Students turn in their X-ray scans, spreadsheet, and a report.

More information about assessment tools and techniques.

Teaching materials and tips

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