Robert Coats Thin Sections

Robert R. Coats Thin Section Collection, 19541956

In 2013, Keith Campbell rescued a collection of 185 thin sections that belonged to Robert Coats. Keith not only rescued them but also compiled a catalog, “Robert Coats Thin Section Catalog, 1954-1956,” which greatly increased their utility. The catalog includes Coats’ sample number, location, and description. The samples from the Jarbidge–Mountain City area are a mix of Paleozoic sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, Cretaceous granitic rocks, Tertiary volcanic rocks, and alteration-vein samples. Thanks goes to several geologists who saved these samples and passed them on until they could be properly archived: Raul Madrid (now deceased), Juan Ruiz Parraga, and finally Keith Campbell who gave them to Chris Henry, knowing that NBMG could provide a permanent archive for the thin sections.

Robert Coats was the author of several publications on areas in northeastern Nevada:

The GBSSRL began digitizing thin sections in 2018, funded by the USGS Data Preservation Program. The collaboration with the UNR Library continued this effort and involved devising novel techniques to efficiently capture these images, associate them with highly detailed standardized metadata, and disseminate these data on the Internet.

A thank you also goes to Diane dePolo for volunteering to help with the photography in the first phase of the project.

New Library Digital Collection: Thin Sections
Unique Rock Samples Added to the Libraries’ Digital Archive

Research & Innovation | November 10, 2020
University Libraries
Read story and view collection here:

“The Digital Services unit at the University Libraries has recently digitized mineral thin sections from the Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library (GBSSRL), Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology. The rock samples were gathered by geologist Robert Coats in the 1950s, from different quadrangles in Elko County. The samples were made into rock thin sections and mounted in microscope slides.

Nathan Gerth and Katherine Dirk in Digital Services collaborated with Emily O’Dean, Geoscience Data Manager and GBSSRL Manager, and David Davis, Geologic Information Specialist, to identify samples that could be digitized. O’Dean and Davis provided expertise on the materials, descriptive metadata, and proper lighting. To make these samples available online, the Head of Metadata and Cataloging, Emily Boss, used the metadata from GBSSRL to make the samples searchable in the Digital Archive.

“This was an interesting project because we had not captured thin sections before,” Dirk said. “My team essentially had to create a microscopic view, with our 120-mm camera lens and lightbox. While we regularly digitize negatives on a lightbox, with the thin sections, we had an added element of capturing them in regular lighting and in cross-polarized light using polarized film sheets.”

When viewed under polarized light, minerals present in the sample will appear in different colors and intensity, making them easy to identify.

University students, faculty, and staff can access the thin section samples at the University of Nevada, Reno Libraries’ Digital Archive, in the Great Basin Science Sample and Records Library, Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology digital collection. Users interested in viewing other digital collections of unique materials, can browse them on the Libraries’ Digital Archive.

University Libraries

The University Libraries embrace intellectual inquiry and innovation, nurture the production of new knowledge, and foster excellence in learning, teaching and research. During each academic year, the Libraries welcomes more than 1.2 million visitors across its network of three branch libraries: the Mathewson-IGT Knowledge Center, the DeLaMare Science and Engineering Library and the Savitt Medical Library. Visitors checked-out more than 90,000 items and completed more than 2 million database searches.”

If you know of any geological samples or collections that need archiving, please contact Emily O’Dean or David Davis (see contact links above).

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