GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 19-7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


LACROIX, Brice, Kansas State UniversityGeology, 108 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506-3200, KEMPTON, Pamela, Department of Geology, Kansas State University, 108 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506 and BRUESEKE, Matthew, Department of Geology, Kansas State Univ, 108 Thompson Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506

The COVID-19 pandemic made moving from in-person to on-line teaching a requirement for most university faculty worldwide. But for some disciplines, this mode of instruction presents significant challenges. This is especially true for Mineralogy and Petrology because they rely on access to microscopes and thin sections, which are obviously not available to the average student in the virtual world. Long hours and significant effort were expended by many faculties in the first months of the pandemic to generate photographs and photomicrographs of sufficient quality for students to view online to complete a range of laboratory exercises. Despite best efforts, the time required to produce these photographs was simply too great to generate a comprehensive library equivalent to the sample sets available in most departments. Moreover, these ‘flat’ images did not allow students to explore key optical properties, such as mineral pleochroism or extinction. They also limited a student’s ability to explore a thin section at multiple levels of magnification.

In order to help faculty in geoscience departments in the US to generate high quality online resources for their classes at rates much faster than can be done by manual methods during this period of uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have established the NSF-funded PetCAT Scan facility. The system consists of a fully automated Zeiss Axio Scan Z1. A powerful feature of our system is its automated multichannel acquisition, generating virtual thin sections, transforming any computer into the equivalent of a petrographic microscope.

In this contribution, we will present capabilities of the PetCAT Scan facility, and how this instrument can change our way of teaching microscope-based classed, as well as shape future research. We also bring examples of how the PetCAT-scan facility was used over the last year at Kansas State University, in our geology curriculum.