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Sand, Wiapio Beach, Hawaii, Hawaii Under the Microscope

Sand, Wiapio Beach, Hawaii, Hawaii

These are the two central olivine grains with only a single linear polarizing filter. The boundary of the two central grains shows low relief, indicating a refractive index near that of the mounting medium, 1.680.

Transmitted Oblique Illumination with a Single Linear Polarizing Filter


Olivine is a group (family) of minerals with the general chemical formula of (Mg,Fe)2[SiO4]. Forsterite in the name of the mineral when it contains no iron, chemical formula Mg2[SiO4]. The iron rich end member is Fayalite, chemical formula Fe2[SiO4]. Most olivines contain some magnesium (Mg) and some iron (Fe). Olivine with a Fayalite composition of about 80% is called Chrysolite.

Significance in the Environment:

Characteristic Features:

Associated Particles:


Deer, W.A., R.A. Howie, and J. Zussman, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ROCK-FORMING MINERALS, Longman Scientific & Technical, 1992.

Greenberg, Gary, A GRAIN OF SAND: NATURE'S SECRET WONDER, Voyageur Press, 2008.

Welland, Michael, SAND: THE NEVER ENDING STORY, University of California Press, 2009.
(Good Information on the microscopy of sand, Great site for more information on microscopy in general)
(Good Information on Sand with links to more information on sand),com_mediadb/task,play/idstr,Open-feeds_fsc_exploring_sedimentary_processes_fsc02_02_m4v/vv,-2/Itemid,97
(Brief, very informative video on what can be learned from the shape of a sand grain.)