Lab Work: Separating Zircon Crystals with the Frantz

Now that we have obtained our high-density sample using the water table, it is further separated based on the sample’s magnetic properties. In order to do this, a machine called the “Frantz” is used, which is basically a large magnet. The sample is fed into a feeder that vibrates to funnel the particulates into the machine and down through the magnet; any particles that are attracted to the magnet at that specific magnetic strength will be separated from the particles that are non-magnetic, and each will be fed into separate bins at the end of the feeder line.

The sample is first ran on the Frantz at a low magnetic setting (0.3 A). The split that is non-magnetic is then processed at a higher magnetic setting (1.0A) to purify the sample. This leaves three sample splits: magnetic at low intensity, magnetic at high intensity, and a high intensity non-magnetic split. Zircon can be extracted at magnetic strengths of 0.4 A or higher and have the best yield at magnetic strengths greater than 1.6 A. Thus, the high intensity non-magnetic split will continue on to the heavy liquid step in the zircon extraction process. Come back next week to learn more!

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