The fission track laboratory comprises two Nikon Optiphot2 microscopes. One scope is fitted with a computer controlled Kinetek automated stage and Calcomp digitizing tablet. The other scope is a polarizing scope used for sample characterization and thin section analyses. Interchangeable between these two scopes is a video system with color monitor and a 35 mm camera set-up. The video system is particularly useful for teaching petrography and demonstrating fission track counting procedures. We use the external detector method and zeta calibration on CN5 glass for fission track thermochronology. Samples are irradiated in the Oregon State University Nuclear Reactor.
In addition, housed within the fission track lab is an Olympus SZX12 stereo microscope, used primarily for grain selection for (U-Th)/He analyses. This scope has a magnification range of 7x to 288x and a variable-slit transmitted base for variable angle illumination to help locate inclusions within grains under polarizing light. Attached to this scope (and also interchangeable with the Nikon scopes) is a digital camera allowing images to be captured and stored on an adjacent G3 desktop computer with a 40GB external hard drive.