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While acquiring new samples to feature does entail some financial outlay, most of the expense comes from the cost of preparing thin sections and the cost of instrument time to do analytical work. To give you an idea of some of these expenses, a single polished thin section comes in at a bit under $40 to make, and to examine it with the electron microprobe currently costs a bit under $17/hr (this is actually a very reasonable price… some labs charge hundreds of dollar per hour to use their equipment!) To give you an idea of the time involved, a basic five element X-ray map takes around 4 hours; every additional five element set takes an additional 4 hours, and three sets (15 elements in total) usually offers a great snapshot of the mineralogical distributions of key major and minor elements in a sample. Needless to say, add all this up and it can get quite expensive:
|the process (using sample FKM-1 as an example)||the cost|
|TOTAL (from a single rock specimen to the derived thin section’s set of cool images & analyses featured here) =||~$341|
|specimen acquisition (from $0 [donated/self-collected] to rarely >$50 for rarer material;
most specimens cost under $20; the rock for FKM-1 cost $25)
|billet preparation (cutting to size, grinding, mounting in epoxy if necessary;
I do this work myself so the cost is ostensibly $0, but technically I should add in the cost of consumables)
|professionally prepared polished thin section||$39|
|EPMA instrument cost for ~25 spot analyses (~4.5 hrs instrument time, including non-analysis time;
the operator cost is $0 [I do this work myself])
|EPMA instrument cost for 15 element set of X-ray maps (~12 hrs instrument time;
the operator cost is $0 [X-ray mapping is automated])
I hope to add a lot of new and exciting content in the future (for example, I’d love to add multi-element X-ray maps of all the featured thin sections, and additionally some of the samples might be interesting for ICP-MS trace element or isotopic work). But progress in these directions will depend largely on what funding I can raise. And in the most optimistic case scenario, any money raised over and above what I need to accomplish these and other ongoing website goals will go to another ancillary good cause: a bit of extra food & shelter money for yours truly… 🙂
For your peace of mind, donations are handled securely through PayPal (clicking “Donate Now” will take you to their own checkout portal; I’ll never see your credit card number or any of your private banking information), and can be done either via a PayPal account (if you have one), a credit card or a debit card. Depending on user feedback, I may try to offer other donation options in the future. NOTE: Although the missions of this website are education and scientific advancement, rockPTX.com is at present not an IRS-recognized tax-exempt organization, so unfortunately your donations are currently not tax-deductible.
Thank you, and I appreciate your support!