On Thursday and Friday I went to Exeter University to have a practice run of the palynology work that I will be doing with my samples. Palynology is the study of the fine grained particles and dust in sedimentary rocks. I was doing a palynofacies analysis, which involves looking at acid resistant organic matter, such as pollen and spores. This organic matter is obtained via adding hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid to the samples to remove the carbonate and silicate minerals. The material that is left behind is then placed on a microscope slide to be analysed.
I looked at some samples from one of the studies by one of the lecturers, and I counted each of the different types of organic matter. These included spores, pollen, plant tissue, marine microfossils and black debris. I tallied these up in order to get some indication of the nature of deposition of the sediment. A large amount of spores, pollen and plant tissue would indicate a terrestrial deposit, a large amount of marine microfossils would indicate a marine deposit and a large amount of black debris would indicate a coal deposit. In this study, most of the samples were terrestrial with a lot of pollen, spores and plant tissue, and one of them was a coal deposit, having a large amount of black debris.
This study was a training exercise, to give me an idea of what I will be doing when my samples have been processed, so hopefully I'll be doing this again very soon. I shall end this post with a few pictures of the organic matter that I saw - the scale bar at the bottom of each one is 20 micrometres, or 0.02mm.
|Degraded Plant Tissue|