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Geology magic: First year student turns rocks into colourful images

Hobby project by UCPH student shows sections of rock as colourful kaleidoscopes on Instagram

They look a lot like what you see if you look through a kaleidoscope. Thin sections of the different types of rock of the planet Earth.

They are also the object of fascination for one first year University of Copenhagen (UCPH) geology student Laura van der Does. And for her many followers and friends on Instagram who can see her iPhone images of samples taken through a microscope.

Wafer thin, the samples are actually only 30µm thick (micrometres, or 30 thousandths of a millimetre thick). And what you see in the microscope are only 2 mm in diameter.

Rock curiosity

Laura, a Dane from the town of Billund, specialised in geosciences in secondary school, and it was natural for her to progress to the geology programme at the University of Copenhagen.

One of the many photos posted. This one is of igneous rock. The two big crystals are the high temperature alkalifeldspar called sanidine, seen from two different angles. The little pink grain is olivine. (Photo: Laura van der Does)

Last November, she started posting thin sections on her Instagram account @itslittlelaura. Her fascination with the different types of rock was contagious, especially among her geology student friends, and she now has 1,200 followers.

“There is a really good study atmosphere in the geology programme,” she says, adding that she shares classes and lab exercises with around 50 students in this year’s programme.

Everything that is solid

Her favourite types of rock are the igneous types, rocks that at some point have been spewed out of the Earth in a volcano, and the metamorphic ones, rocks that have been twisted and transformed under pressure under ground.

Laura van der Does pictures show us that the Earth is not solid (Photo: Mike Young)

“I am interested in what the Earth is made up of. Did you know that the interior of the Earth is not liquid? The mantle is almost solid, but has plasticity and only flows very slow.” she explains.

See more of Laura’s rock sections and her explanations for the strange patterns in the gallery below.

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