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Petrographic, Mineragraphic & SEM Services

The petrographic and mineragraphic descriptions provided by Pathfinder Exploration Pty Ltd are based on 30 years' of hands-on exploration and research experience in the exploration and mining industry. Emphasis is placed on identifying lithologies in the weathering profile, particularly in the deeply weathered/lateritic profiles of shield areas in Western Australian and Africa using relict minerals and preserved textures.

In addition, particular experience in alteration assemblages associated with volcanic massive sulphide (VHMS) base metal deposits, porphyry copper - gold or molybdenum deposits and epithermal gold - silver deposits in the circum - pacific region has helped to vector into mineralisation.

Recent studies have involved the petrology of layered mafic/ultramafic complexes and associated PGE mineralisation at the Panton Sill, McIntosh and Lamboo Complexes in the East Kimberley of Western Australia as well as the Stillwater and Duluth complexes in the USA. Related studies reviewing gabbroid - style nickel - copper mineralisation associated with troctolites and related olivine gabbronorites has been completed for Sally Malay style mineralisation in the East Kimberley and similar, Voisey Bay - style mineralisation in Quebec, Canada.

An extensive thin section reference library has been accumulated for the lithostratigraphic settings of a broad spectrum of mineralisation styles throughout Australia and Oceania, as well as world class base and precious metal deposits in the US, Canada, Africa and the UK.

Particular areas of interest include:

  • Identification of hydrothermal, metamorphic and metasomatic alteration assemblages associated with epigenetic gold deposits.
  • Identification of low temperature alteration assemblages associated with epithermal gold deposits.
  • Petrology and mineragraphy of volcanogenic (VHMS) polymetallic deposits and host volcanic/volcaniclastic rocks including identification of subtle alteration assemblages.
  • Petrology and mineragraphy of layered mafic/ultramafic intrusive rocks and associated PGE and/or chromite mineralisation.
  • Petrology and mineragraphy of komatiite-hosted and gabbroid-hosted Ni/(Cu) mineralisation
  • High grade metamorphic assemblages with particular reference to gold and base metal deposits in Archaean and Lower Proterozoic terranes.
  • Identification of the various hydrothermal alteration, greisen and skarn assemblages associated with felsic intrusive and plutonic rocks and attendant Sn, W and Au mineralisation
  • Identification and classification of boxwork textures in gossans.


Whole rock, immobile trace element ( i.e. Ti, Y, Nb, Zr, Cr and REE) petrochemical analyses of weathered and unweathered rocks can be reported and interpreted. Electron microprobe of polished/thin sections and SEM identification of opaque minerals can be facilitated to complement petrographic studies. XRD services are available particularly for the identification of alteration assemblages.


Systematic field studies may help to elucidate difficult rock assemblages or reveal subtle alteration trends. This may involve detailed geological mapping or core/RC logging (or relogging). This service is available at normal contract rates.


  • Olympus BHT-BH2 & BHSM-BH2 Binocular Microscopes capable of transmitted (petrographic) or incident light (mineragraphic) examination. Objectives include 5X, 10X, 20X, 50X and 100X.
  • Photomicrographic and point counting capabilities.
  • Olympus Camedia digital camera.
  • Access to EDS and WDS microanalysis facilities on the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and Electron Microprobe at the University of Western Australia.
  • XRD services by provided by the WMC - GRL laboratories, Kewdale, Perth, WA.

Refer to the Petrographic Manual PDF file for current petrographic/mineragraphic charges in Australian dollars.


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Lithoscape ®

An enjoyable part of studying countless thin and polished thin sections is the observation of unique Images showing the textures developed by various minerals and fossils and highlighted by the polarising microscope. These Images registered as Lithoscapes® are available for sale and can have a myriad of uses from cool pictures that can be printed and framed down to screen savers. Some Images are shown on this page with additional Images shown in the Lithoscapes® PDF file.



UCLA Petrographic workshop -
Volcanic World -
Mineralogy Database -
Mineral Properties -
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology -
Australian National Geoscience Information System
University of Calgary earth sciences
University of Geneva "Links to Great Earth Science Resources"
Image Gallery - The Rock Wing -


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Petrologist, Dr Craig S. Rugless utilising one of two polarising microscopes. One microscope is equipped with a trinocular eyepiece facilitating digital photomicrographic services.

Thin, polished and polished thin sections are prepared using a Logitech machine by Joe Morocz at Petrolab Laboratories in Perth.

A unique photomicrograph or Lithoscape® showing a "bow tie" texture developed by amphibole in a 0.03 mm thick section of a rock from the Goldfields of Western Australia. Field of view - 3 mm.