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Gallery: Hidden Rainbows in Ordinary Rocks

Rocking Colors

Bernardo Cesare Slag Sample

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

By slicing rocks very thin and using special filters, geologists can turn a drab-looking rock sample into a slice of color. These photographs zoom in on tiny sections of rock just a few millimeters across. The images can tell geologists about the formation and composition of a rock, or, as Italian geoscientist Bernardo Cesare discovered, they can provide a palette for artistic beauty.

Above, a sample of slag (a byproduct from smelting ore into metals) provided by Ivana Angelini. Read the full article.

Plastic Under the Lens

Bernardo Cesare Plastic Bag

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Rocks aren't the only material that can reveal colors using the technique. This is a fragment of a plastic bag.

Russian Rock

Bernardo Cesare Schist Sample

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

This is one of Cesare's favorite images, a type of metamorphic rock called a schist bearing the mineral charoite.

Garnet Peridotite

Bernardo Cesare Garnet Peridotite Sample

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

A garnet peridotite from Alpe Arami, Switzerland.

Graphite Glory

Bernardo Cesare Graphite Sample

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Graphite (the mineral used to make pencil "lead") in a metamorphic rock called a granulite from Kerala, India. The sample was provided by Satish Kumar.

Madagascar Jasper

Bernardo Cesare Ocean Jasper

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Ocean Jasper from Madagascar is on of Bernardo Cesare's favorite rock micrographs, due to its flower-like patterns.

Charoite-bearing Rock

Bernardo Cesare Charoite

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Charoite-bearing rock from Yakutia, Russia

Manitoba Color

Bernardo Cesare Granulite

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

A granulite (a type of metamorphic rock) from Manitoba, Canada, provided by Martha Growdon.

Burning Love

Bernardo Cesare Lava Heart

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Crystals in a chunk of lava from Lipari, Italy, take the shape of a heart.

Crystal Forms

Bernardo Cesare Gabbro

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Crystals of the mineral plagioclase in gabbro, an igneous rock.

Ocean Jasper

Bernardo Cesare Ocean Jasper

(Image credit: Copyright: Bernardo Cesare, micROCKScopica.org)

Ocean Jasper from Madagascar.