The Geology Team

Thin-Section Lab

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Part of the fun of being a geologist is making big rocks into small rocks. Sometimes we do that by bashing them with rock hammers. But to reveal the rock's inner secrets, you've got to slice it open carefully, so you can peer into it like Dumbledore gazes into the Hogwarts pensieve.

Thus we've built what's called a thin-section laboratory, where we adhere wafer-thin slices of rock to glass microscope slides. We also make thin-sections of fossils, minerals, and meteorites. By shining polarized light through thin-sections, we can determine the composition, history, and preservational quality of a sample. This type of research is called petrography, and is a prerequisite or integral component of many types of geological and paleontological studies.

Our thin-section lab is staffed entirely by citizen scientists, who volunteer their expertise (and patience!) to help us investigate questions in deep time. Thanks!

Donate Your Specimen or Collection

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Do you have a unique specimen or collection that you'd like to preserve for posterity?

Maybe it's something you collected, were given, or purchased. Or perhaps it belonged to a family member who has passed on. Whatever the situation - if you'd like these specimens to see new life, we'd be happy to give them a legacy as part of the DMNS Collections. Many of the most iconic specimens on display in the Museum were donated by the public or acquired through sponsoring donations. Some are seen by our 1.4 million visitors per year, whereas others are studied by researchers or go out to schools to help inspire the next generation of critical thinkers. All gifts are tax-deductible.

If you'd like to discuss a donation or ask our help in evaluating your collection, please send us an email to open the conversation. Our team is accustomed to assessing, packing, and picking up donations, whether they be as small as a tiny gem or so large that they fill an entire basement. Unlike many museums, we have plenty of room to grow, having recently increased the size of our collections storage by 50% with a new state-of-the-art facility. And, thanks to the incredible efforts of our volunteer geology team, we have no backlog. All our specimens have been catalogued, inventoried, and placed in archival padding and storage containers. We are ready to receive new collections and honor them in our "Recent Donations" case. As always, donor information is maintained ad infinitum with each piece and when specimens are displayed, the donor or original collector is honored in display labels.

Thank you for thinking of us.

Newspaper Column: Just the Facts

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The Museum is always on the lookout for new ways to serve and support the community. One way to do this is to demonstrate how science is relevant. James Hagadorn's monthly newspaper column, Just the Facts, aims to do this by employing data and scientific thinking to address issues of local interest. Using Colorado as a case study, he leverages peer-reviewed literature, data, and expert information to explore topics that impact our everyday lives. Jargon-free and sprinkled with a bit of humor - we hope the stories resonate with you.

Columns appear monthly in ten different Colorado newspapers, with an archive of them in the Front Porch.

Webcasts: Colorado Minerals & Geology

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Want to learn more about cool minerals and rocks? Or find out what's hidden in the Rockies? Watch Dr. J's Minerals Live! webcasts at the links below. In each show, Amy Hoover, Steve Behling, Richard Jackson, Graham Sutton and James Hagadorn team up to bring you insights about Colorado geology. Plus, we poke some fun!

Speleothems: Mineralogic tree-rings

Poisonous Minerals: Not what you'd think

Zeolites: More than fuzz in bubbles

A Brief History of Creede: Colorado's ever-burning town

Uranium & Pitchblende: A glowing surprise

Turquoise: It's harder than quartz!

Italian Mountain Lazurite: The only place in N. America where lapis occurs

Fulgurites: Zoinks! Fossil lightning

Rhodochrosite: Our State Mineral

Molybdenum: Your iPhone's secret ingredient

Amazonite: Why lead isn't bad for minerals!

Aquamarine: Our state gemstone

Silver: A story of boom and bust

Yule Marble: Colorado's hardest export

Gold: Why our state capitol's covered in it

Diamonds: From hoax to discovery of the century

Behind the Collections: What's happening at DMNS

Identifying Rocks, Minerals, Fossils, Meteorites

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Found a funky rock while out hiking? Or did Grampa leave you a hoard of fossils in his basement when he passed away?

Consider contacting one of the many avocational or hobbyist organizations in the area and asking someone there to identify your specimen.  For rocks, gems, and minerals you can find a nearby club at RMFMS; for meteorites you might contact COMETS, and for fossils you might contact WIPS.  There are also excellent online resources for identifying gems, minerals, rocks, and fossils.  For meteorites, perhaps visit WUSTL, UNM, or MM

Get Involved

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Interested in conducting research?

Or is outreach or collections work more your style? We're often looking for new members to join our 25-member team of geology volunteers. Some of us are new to science, whereas others have been fondling rocks for decades. The thread that unites us? We all love what we do. Each of us brings a different expertise to the table, collaborating to shepherd our collections on behalf of the people, and to probe rocks, fossils, and minerals to investigate how our planet works. Available Earth Sciences positions, as well as application instructions, are here.

Check out our Earth Sciences page for upcoming events, most recent updates, and fascinating research!
While you are at it, check out the Earth Sciences collections page as well.

Be Social! Check me out on:







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    Jim Bullecks

    Citizen Scientist
    Department Associate

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    Taylor Hitte

    Business Support Specialist


    [email protected]

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    Bonita Lahey

    Citizen Scientist

  • Bob Raynolds

    Research Associate
    [email protected]

  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Mike Richardson

    Thin Section Technician

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    Linda Smith

    Citizen Scientist

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    Linda Soar

    Citizen Scientist
    Department Associate

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    Chelsea Toews

    Thin Section Tech

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    Paul Tokheim

    Engineer & Tech

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    Karen Whiteley

    Citizen Scientist

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    Mike Yusas

    Citizen Scientist

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