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Project status is complete. Please check the project list for currently active projects.

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2017, the project activities are continuing under the Analytical Chemistry project.


azurite-malachite intergrowths
Azurite-Malachite Intergrowths. Transmitted light micrograph, showing tabular crystals of azurite partially altered to green malachite around void areas. From USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5211.

Our project addresses the need for specialized facilities and provides technical and scientific support to USGS scientists, academics, and an inquisitive public. Our trained personnel and specialized equipment and laboratories offer expert sample preparation, access to preparation equipment for the do-it-yourselfer, general methods guidance, routine geochemistry, and composition analyses using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) instruments. This project also contributes information about the physical properties and the influences of rocks and minerals in the natural and built environments.

What We Do

We operate several laboratories including Rock Prep (Comminution Lab), Heavy Liquids, X-ray Diffraction, Magnetic Separation, General Chemistry, and Small Instruments. Our laboratories and services provide Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center and Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center scientists with the expertise, equipment, and methods needed to deconstruct rocks and enlarge understanding of geologic processes occurring at field, disaster, and prospect sites.

  • Examine, crush, grind, slab, sieve, and polish whole rock material
  • Separate and concentrate mineral constituents using water tables, heavy liquids, magnets, and microscopes
  • Identify and quantify minerals using staining methods, X-ray diffraction, and X-ray fluorescence
  • Measure various physical properties of whole rock including density, magnetic susceptibility, and solubility
  • Train student interns in the use of preparation equipment, methods, and lab safety
  • Develop new preparation methods as needs (emphasis on heavy mineral separation)
  • Development new preparation methods as needed (emphasis on heavy mineral separation)
  • Salvage, maintain, and repair lab equipment



Driscoll, Rhonda, 2007, From projectile points to microprocessors—The influence of some industrial minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1314, 26 p.,

Driscoll, Rhonda, Hageman, P.L., Benzel, W.M., Diehl, S.F., Adams, D.T., Morman, Suzette, and Choate, L.M., 2012, Assessment of the geoavailability of trace elements from minerals in mine wastes: analytical techniques and assessment of selected copper minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5211, 68 p.,

Driscoll, R.L., Hageman, P.L., Benzel, W.M., Diehl, S.F., Morman, Suzette, Choate, L.M., and Lowers, Heather, 2014, Assessment of the geoavailability of trace elements from selected zinc minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1309, 78 p.,

Driscoll, Rhonda, and Leinz, Reinhard, 2005, Methods for Synthesis of Some Jarosites: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 5–D1, 9 p.,

McCafferty, A.E., Phillips, J.D., and Driscoll, R.L., 2016, Magnetic and Gravity Gradiometry Framework for Mesoproterozoic Iron Oxide-Apatite and Iron Oxide-Copper-Gold Deposits, Southeast Missouri: Economic Geology, 111(8), p. 1859–1882, doi:10.2113/econgeo.111.8.1859.

Strong, T.R., and Driscoll, R.L., 2016, A process for reducing rocks and concentrating heavy minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1022, 16 p.,


Bala, S.A., Holm-Denoma, C.S., Neymark, L.A., Taylor, C.D., Pietruszka, A.J., and Driscoll, R.L., 2014, U-Pb zircon ages and mineralogy of the Dora Bay instrusive complex and heavy REE-bearing pematite dikes: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 46, No. 6, p. 782. View Bala GSA abstract.

Project Contact

Rhonda Driscoll
Phone: 303-236-5635
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center

Mineral Resources Program Science Priority

The use of firm, trade, and brand names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government.

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