The Geology Department at Macalester College occupies the majority of the first floor of Rice Hall in the Olin-Rice Science Complex. The Department houses an outstanding array of teaching and research facilities including the Keck Laboratory. Students are encouraged to use any of the equipment for class and research related projects.


To sign up for instrument time, email Jeff Thole or Karl Wirth with your preferred time.

Teaching and Computer Facilities

Teaching LabThe Macalester College Geology Department boasts three exclusive teaching labs that are utilized for both introductory and upper level courses. In addition, the department shares a large lecture hall equipped with the latest multimedia support. Several small labs are also available for student/faculty research and class projects. A well-supported computer laboratory (Mark E. Andersen Computer Lab) has many recent Apple and PC workstations with the latest productivity software. Teaching Lab Additional facilities include high quality binocular and petrographic microscopes, rock cutting, polishing and crushing equipment, thin section preparation equipment and a digital broadband seismometer. A student lounge/library located in the department is equipped with computer access and geologic literature. The department is also fortunate to have a custom-designed Guide to Research online through the DeWitt Wallace Library.

Teaching LabThe Henry Lepp Geology Museum is located on the first floor of the Geology Department outside of the faculty offices. It currently hosts a display of early dinosaurs Eoraptor and Herrerasaurus battling a dead rhynchosaur), the skull of Majungatholus atopus (a spectacular domed theropod from Madagascar), and a variety of other items of geologic interest. The Webers Rock Garden (situated in a courtyard immediately outside of the department) is home to numerous rock specimens that represent typical lithologies of the Upper Midwest.

JEOL 6610 LV Scanning Electron Microscope

Teaching LabThe SEM is equipped with a new Robinson Backscatter Electron Detector and an Oxford Instruments EDS WAVE WDS Spectrometer.

SEM/EDS Sign Up Calendar

(Click the Week View tab or event to see total usage time for each event)

Philips PW2400 X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer

Teaching LabThe spectrometer is used to determine major and trace element concentrations down to the parts per million range in a variety of substances, but primarily in silicate rocks. Sample preparation equipment includes an automated fusion machine (Claisse Fluxy) and a 25-ton manual press.


PANalytical X’PERT Pro X-ray Diffractometer

Teaching LabThe x-ray diffractometer is used primarily to identify individual minerals and mineral mixtures (rocks). A variety of software packages allow simple identification, semi-quantitative phase analysis, and lattice parameter determinations.

XRD Sign Up Calendar (Click the Week View tab or event to see total usage time for each event)

Bruker “Dimension Edge” Atomic Force Microscope (AFM)

AFM-sm.jpgThe AFM was purchased through a grant by the Sherman Fairchild Foundation and was installed in the Science Division’s Keck Laboratory during the Fall 2014 semester. The instrument uses special probes that are scanned very precisely across a surface to be analyzed. The interaction of the probe and the surface can provide a variety of physical, electrical, and magnetic signals that can produce images with nanometer scale resolution.