Micromorphology


SOIL MICROMORPHOLOGY

It has been said that the light microscope has been the most important scientific instrument of all time. It is the tool of micromorphology. "Micromorphology is the branch of soil science that is concerned with the description, interpretation and, to an increasing extent, the measurement of components, features and fabrics in soils at a microscopic level" (Bullock et al, 1985). Optical microscopy is one of the few techniques that allows us to examine the soil and is components in situ, unaltered and undisturbed by preparation or analytical procedures.Soil Micromorphology

 

This page is supported by the SSSA Soil Mineralogy Division

International Union of Soil Scientists 2004 Kubiena Medal

The Kubiëna Medal was introduced by Subcommission B - Soil Micromorphology of the ISSS to commemorate the memory of Walter L Kubiëna for his distinguished contribution to soil micromorphology. It is the only medal awarded by the IUSS and is given for outstanding and sustained performance in the discipline of soil micromorphology and to date there have been six awards E. Yarilova, R. Brewer, H.J Altemüller, G. Stoops, E.A FitzPatrick and L. Wilding. It is made every four years and presented at International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology. The selection committee for the year 2004 Kubiëna Medal award is composed by G. Stoops (Belgium), E.A. FitzPatrick (UK) and L. Wilding (USA) (award holders), F. Terribile (Italy) (Chairman of the Selection Committee 2001) and G. Humphreys (AUS) (Chairman of Commission 1.1 - Morphology - of the IUSS). The Committee will discuss the nomination during the Meeting on Micromorphology in Adana, September 2004.

The Committee now requests proposals from any member of the IUSS for the next award to be presented at the next International Soils Congress of Soil Science of the IUSS, to take place in Philadelphia (USA), 2006. All areas of micromorphological endeavour including research, teaching and application of results to environmental, agricultural, archaeological and industrial problems are considered relevant.

Nominations with supporting information (see below) should be sent to Georges Stoops, (elected Chairman of Subcommission B) by July 31th, 2004 at the following e-mail address: Georges.Stoops@Ugent.be

Guidelines
1. Statement of key achievements and career highlights of the nominee (1 page)
2. Curriculum vitae detailing career history and publication record of the nominee
3. Name of proposer and seconder for the nominee
4. Any other relevant information in support of the nominee
5. Full address and contact details for the nominee

SITES OF INTEREST TO SOIL MICROMORPHOLOGY

Report of the 12th International Meeting on Soil Micromorphology of the IUSS Commission 1.1 Soil Morphology and Micromorphology, Adana Turkey, September 20-26, 2004. the report is in Microsoft Word, with photos.

Recent Books of Interest
Stoops, G. 2003. Guidelines for analysis and description of soil and regolith thin sections. Soil Sci. Soc. Am., Madison, WI. Check the SSSA Bookstore for ordering information

Stoops, G. 2003. ACHIEVEMENTS IN MICROMORPHOLOGY. Special Issue of CATENA (Vol. 54, 3), Elsevier, 364 pp.
This publication contains the Proceedings of the International Working Meeting on Soil Micromorphology organised in Gent from 9 till 13 July 2001. It presents 20 selected papers covering the field of soil micromorphology, from concepts to applications in pedogenesis, palaeopedology, archaeology and soil physics, including micromorphometry. A large number of colour plates illustrates the texts.

Soil Under the Microscope: Evaluating Soil in Another Dimension. A CD illustrating typical soil profiles the 12 soil orders, their geographical distribution and microfabrics common to the soils. Also illustrated are special features and minerals under the microscope. Copies may be obtained from Dr. Hari Eswaran, World Soil Resources, USDA/NRCS, PO Box 2890, Washington DC 20013, USA, Tel: 1-202-690 0333, Fax: 1-202-720 4593, email Hari Eswaran Hari.Eswaran@usda.gov

Upcoming Events

A new Thin Section & Discussion Forum has been launched at the University of Stirling (http://bbs.thin.stir.ac.uk/)
This forum is intended to facilitate discussion and the exchange of ideas amongst the worldwide thin section and micromorphology community. If this is of interest to you please register and start or join a discussion.

Eight Day-Long Research Seminars and Practical/Workshops in Archaeological Soil Micromorphology By Dr Richard Macphail Richard I. Macphail (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
r.macphail@ucl.ac.uk, r.macphail@btopenworld.com
Being held at the University of Tours (Laboratoire Archéologie et Territoires, Prof. Henri Galinié) during October, November and December 2004
The exact dates and subjects to be covered will be finalised in due course, but the approach will follow the format used during the 5th European Intensive Course in Soil Micromorphology (Erasmus/Socrates), Naples September 2001, and Courty, Goldberg and Macphail 2nd edition (Cambridge University press, in preparation).

  • The chief themes will be:
  • Soils and Sediments as Material Culture
  • Experimental and Analogue Data-based Models of Site Formation Processes
  • A Holistic Approach to Archaeological Microstratigraphy: integration of artefact, environmental and geoarchaeological data in addition to that from petrological analyse’.
  • Preliminary subject coverage – suggestions welcome.
  • Soil micromorphology and reporting (including use of soil microfabric types (SMTs), counting and production of microfacies types (MFTs).
  • Hunter-gatherer sediments and caves
  • Clearance and low impact (e.g., herding) activities
  • Cultivation (low intensity)
  • Settlement – animal management and manuring
  • Structures and occupation surfaces
  • ‘Classical’ deposits and Dark Earth
  • Medieval structures, use of space and industrial traces

Intensive Training Course on Soil Micromorphology Barcelona, SPAIN. 10-21 January 2005. There is a large range of disciplines where the soil micromorphology could be applied. So, the course is offered to graduates in Geology, Biology, Geography, Agronomy, Forest Sciences, Archaeology, Environmental Sciences, Engineering, Pharmacy or Earth Sciences in general (course given in english). Giving the knowledge of Soil Micromorphology as a technique of applications of different disciplines of the Soil Science, Agronomy, Archaeology and Earth Sciences. Knowing the processes of production of soils thin sections. Describing and interpreting thin sections to study soil genesis and structure. Knowing and using other techniques in the soil studies at the microscopic and submicroscopic scale.

The Geotechnical Microanalysis and Micromorphology Centre maintaines an excellent site for soil micromorphology information. This site includes some of the following:

A Reference Slide Collection for Soil Micromorphology
This collection of images and accompanying documents were prepared for the benefit of teachers and researchers who employ soil micromorphological techniques and for those who want to learn more about the organization of soil components at the microscopic scale. The slides were generously donated by an international group of soil scientists. They were edited and collated by the Reference Slide Subcommittee of the Soil Micromorphology Committee, a standing committee of the Soil Science Society of America. The collected slides were organized into four subsets—biological features; coatings; microstructure and porosity; and related distribution patterns. The slides will be scanned and added to the SSSA Image Gallery.

Basic and Applied Methods of Soil Micromorphology. A summary of the presentations at a Soil Micromorphology Workshop sponsored by the Soil Science Society of America, October 31, 1997.

Key to the ISSS "Handbook for Soil Thin Section Description". by Prof. dr. G. Stoops. A series of keys is proposed to be used in combination with the "Handbook for Soil Thin Section Description" published in 1985 by Bullock et al.

Petrographic Concepts - Introduction to optical microscopy, mineral identification and micromorphological terms for thin section descriptions and interpretations.

Photography with a microscope This page describes the methods used to record images viewed through a microscope. The text describes the principles and practices of photomicrography, and is written for all who take photomicrographs, beginners and/or experienced practitioners. It emphasizes biological photography, but can be applied to thin sections. It describe techniques that may be applied to many disciplines for teaching, research, archives, or pleasure.

Microscopy and Analysis is an international publication for all who work with the applications, instrumentation and techniques of microscopy, chemical analysis and imaging to further our understanding of the biomedical and materials sciences. The magazine is sent free of charge to scientists who specify microscopy, chemical analysis and imaging equipment at their place of work. Web site includes numerous links of interest.

Soil Micromorphology at the University of Stirling. A good WEB site listing methodologies used to prepare thin sections, images, and links to numerous other sites of interest.

International Workshop on Soil Micromorphology and Archaeology The University of Stirling, Scotland, is hosting this workshop on 4th – 6th June 2004. The workshop is supported by the British Society of Soil Science. The aims as in previous workshops are to (1) provide opportunities for examining thin sections and comparing views, (2) share experiences in the use of new approaches, for example in image analysis, and (3) present research papers.

Portugese Rocks Under the Microscope Some portions in English

Preparation of Thin Sections Thin Section Lab, Dept. of Geology, Lakehead University, Ontario CANADA

Canadian Soil Thin Section Collection from the Department of Land Resource Sciences, University of Guelph. The Canadian Soil Thin Section/Block Collection is comprised of resin-impregnated blocks of intact soil, as well as polished thin sections, mounted on regular (27x46 mm) petrographic slides. Currently, the slide collection contains nearly 1300 specimens

Making Petrographic Thin Sections Detailed instructions on how to make thin sections using the facilities in the Union College Geology Department, Schenectady, NY.

Soil Under a Microscope: Evaluating Soils in Another Dimension An online educational series from USDA/NRCS World Soil Resources

PetroGlyph is an interactive computer program designed to help Earth Science students learn to identify minerals in thin sections of rocks and classify thin sections according to rock type. The program is essentially a "virtual" microscope that simulates the major features of optical and electron microscopes. Optical microscope views include: plane polarized light, cross-polarized light, reflected light and Bertrand lens views. This version contains thirty thin sections of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.

Molecular Expressions Virtual Microscopy Website Interactive Java-powered virtual microscopes have been constructed. These virtual microscopes explore specimen focus, illumination intensity, magnification, and translation---operating essentially in a manner that is identical to real-life microscopes.

Microscopy Society of America The Microscopy Society of America (MSA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion and advancement of the knowledge of the science and practice of all microscopical imaging, analysis and diffraction techniques useful for elucidating the ultrastructure and function of materials in diverse areas of biological, materials, medical and physical sciences.

International Cement Microscopy Association The goal of the ICMA is to provide an understanding of:

  • building material microstructure and the relationship between building material microstructure and performance, primarily for problem solving, quality control, and optimization.
  • cement clinker microstructure and the relationship between clinker microstructure and production parameters to improve production output, quality control, and address environmental issues in the cement plant
  • various microscopic techniques as applied in cement and concrete related fields

SCIENCES of SOILS - SoS is the first international electronic online journal in the field of soil science. It benefits from the advantages of electronic publishing: unlimited worldwide access; rapid publication of articles ; graphical features (e.g. colored figures, photos and micrographs); coordinate sets for 3-D models; complete multimedia presentation to expand the kind of information that can be  presented; direct and easy communication between author(s) and reader(s). See Instructions to Authors for additional information on publishing in this electronic online journal.

 

A Listing of Minerals by Physical and Optical Properties (refractive index and color). Also listing of other crystallographic properties. Check out the Index to Mineral Links sites that specialize in mineral data.

Identification Table for Common Minerals in Thin Section From Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Minerals in thin section A database from the University of Wurzburg listing resources for images and data for minerals in thin section from individuals and universities around the world. Also, check out their Links for Mineralogists Home Page for additional mineralogical links.

200 photomicrographs of common igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, textures and common minerals (thin sections at 0.03mm, many with crossed polarized light). This listing also includes a micrograph, chemical formula of minerals, optical properties and occurrence.

Common minerals in Igneous, Metamorphic and Sedimentary rocks.

Rock-Forming Minerals in Thin Section This page is designed to display some of the most significant features of minerals viewed in thin section, and to show the most conspicuous features of major rock-forming minerals.

Igneous rocks in thin section Common igneous minerals with photos and information on section. From Union College.

Metamorphic rocks in thin section Common metamorphic minerals with photos and information on section. From Union College.

Rocks Under a Microscope: A Web Tour and Exercise with links to other sites of interest.

Images of soil thin sections from the University of Stirling. These are a small selection of images captured from soil thin section slides.

A List of Thin Section Images of Rocks and Minerals. Links to numerous data bases for listings of images. Some of the links are no longer valid.

Optical properties of common minerals Chemical formula, composition, occurrence and optical properties of common minerals.

Lecture outline for optical mineralogy Optical properties illustrated along with optical properties of common minerals.

Optical Mineralogy A short book-like introduction to the basics of optical mineralogy; in a PDF format.

Preparing specimens for microscopy Preparation methods and pitfalls to avoid.

Study of minerals with the petrographic microscope This site from the Departament of Pedology, Universidad of Granada, Spain aims to illustrate how and why optical properties are observed by minerals under the transmitted light petrographic microscope. The procedure involves analysing the optical phenomena that occur when polarised light is passed through the minerals. Many of the instructions have video which illustrates the optical phenomena.
Several additional illustrated sites are included. Formation processes are discussed from a micromorphological point of view.

  • Carbonatation process in soil
  • Clay illuviation process in soil This program illustrates the features resulting from clay eluviation/illuviation processes, which consist of the mobilization, transportation and accumulation of clay in the B horizon.
  • Hydromorphic process in soil Hydromorphism in soils, at a macroscopic and a microscopic scale, are described. They are related to macrofeatures observed in the profiles, and their conditions of formation.
  • Study of coarse sands in soil The purpose of this article is to highlight the interest that the mineralogy of the coarse sand fraction (2-0.2 mm) can have for soil studies, both for scientific objectives and for applied research.
  • Micromorphography Interactive multimedia program for self-studying soil thin section description.
  • Micromorphology Interactive multimedia program for self-studying soil thin section interpretation.
  • Atlas of Rocks Igneous, metamorphic and volcanic rocks in thin section. Page shows landscape, hand specimens and thin section examples.

Metamorphic rocks in thin section Images in crossed and uncrossed polarized light.

Minerals Under the Microscope. A listing of optical properties of minerals under the petrographic microscope, in plane and polarized light. This site includes colored illustrations and photographs of the feature being described. This may be of help for beginners in optical microscopy.

Petrographic Workshop is an interactive database designed to help students and teachers better deal with the important and challenging discipline of petrography. The program is designed as a source of mineralogical information used in the identification process of rocks and minerals. The program consists of detailed textual information and microscopic images of hundreds of rocks and minerals. This program can be used as an interactive database or a teacher designed laboratory workshop.

The Mineral Gallery is a constantly growing collection of mineral descriptions, images, and specimens together with several ways of accessing these descriptions (name, class, etc). The descriptions include searchable mineralogical data, plus other information of interest to students.

Glacial Micromorphology. This site also includes information on sample drying and water replacement, sample impregnation, staining techniques, related micromorphology references, and Micromorphology Images Data Base.

Lunar Petrographic thin section package for educational institutions offering courses in the geosciences. Includes thin sections and complete descriptions.

Nikon - Introduction to Polarized Light Microscopy. Although much neglected and undervalued as an investigative tool, polarized light microscopy provides all the benefits of brightfield microscopy and yet offers a wealth of information, which is simply not available with any other optical microscopy technique.

Introduction to Optical Microscopy,Digital Imaging, and Photomicrography. Websites dealing with various aspects of microscopy, microanalysis and photomicrography; although not much for minerals.

MicroWorld Resources and News. A service to microscopists that includes numerous links to other sites of interest. It seems to be aimed at the biological community and electron microscopy, but may have some useful information. Included at this site is a WWW directory of microscopic products, services and news.

Link to vendors and suppliers direcrory for microscopist (although not much for minerals)

The International Metallographic Society has a site for metallography and metallographers that include many of the items also used to make thin sections. You might check out their home page and associated pages

  • List of vendors for abrasives and grinding/polishing equipment/supplies; mounting and etching equipment and supplies; and saws, saw blades, cut-off machines and supplies

 

Eight Day-Long Research Seminars and Practical/Workshops in Archaeological Soil Micromorphology By Dr Richard Macphail Richard I. Macphail (Institute of Archaeology, University College London)
r.macphail@ucl.ac.uk, r.macphail@btopenworld.com
Being held at the University of Tours (Laboratoire Archéologie et Territoires, Prof. Henri Galinié) during October, November and December 2004
The exact dates and subjects to be covered will be finalised in due course, but the approach will follow the format used during the 5th European Intensive Course in Soil Micromorphology (Erasmus/Socrates), Naples September 2001, and Courty, Goldberg and Macphail 2nd edition (Cambridge University press, in preparation).

The chief themes will be:

  • Soils and Sediments as Material Culture
  • Experimental and Analogue Data-based Models of Site Formation Processes
  • A Holistic Approach to Archaeological Microstratigraphy: integration of artefact, environmental and geoarchaeological data in addition to that from petrological analyse’.
  • Preliminary subject coverage – suggestions welcome.
  • Soil micromorphology and reporting (including use of soil microfabric types (SMTs), counting and production of microfacies types (MFTs).
  • Hunter-gatherer sediments and caves
  • Clearance and low impact (e.g., herding) activities
  • Cultivation (low intensity)
  • Settlement – animal management and manuring
  • Structures and occupation surfaces
  • ‘Classical’ deposits and Dark Earth
  • Medieval structures, use of space and industrial traces

Soil Micromorphology and Archaeology Homepage at the School of Earth and Environmental Science, University of Greenwich. To facilitate the dissemination of information concerning soil micromorphology and archaeology. Also see the Web Page Bibliography.

Micromorphology Laboratory, Department of Archaeology, Boston University. This site is from Paul Goldberg and largely devoted to micromorphology of archaeological sites and investigations.

Thin Section Images of Bone Microstructure From The University of Sheffield

The archaeological thin-section laboratory of the University of Manitoba This lab is being set up to train anthropology students in the study of growth marks in mineralized tissues - a promising technique for the study of fossil animals.

Micromorphology in Archaeology Research projects and micrographs from the Unversity of Tennessee, Knoxville

The Laboratory for Comparative Microarchaeology and Metal Conservation Microarchaeology is the study of archaeologically related materials under the microscope. This discipline focuses on the observation of minuscule occurrences in the archaeological record, invisible to the naked eye.

Soil Micromorphology and sediment analysis and it’s contribution to the interpretation of archaeological sites from Museum of Archaeology, Stavanger, Norway.

Book - Geoarchaeology in Action: Studies in Soil Micromorphology and Landscape Evolution by Charles French. Published by Routledge and distributed by a number of on-line book sellers.

Article - T. Arpin and P. Goldberg. 2004. Using Optical Microscopy to Evaluate Human History. Microscopy and Analysis 67:13-15.

Ceramic Petrology Ceramic petrology is a specialised sub-discipline of micromorphology to study burnt and fired clay and archaeological artefacts made from soil material.

Ceramic Petrology The purpose of this page is to supply a reference location for information dealing with the interaction of archaeology and geology - specifically ceramic petrology.

 

REFLECTED LIGHT AND ORE MICROSCOPY

Virtual atlas of opaque and ore minerals and their associations The Atlas is available on a CD-ROM or in hardback form (280mm x 230mm, 208pp)directly from the authors.

Introduction to ore microscopy Mineralographic techniques involving microscopic examination of opaque minerals in reflected polarized light

Reflected-light microscopy

Images of opaque minerals in rreflected light Virtual Atlas of Opaque and Ore Minerals in their Associations

Atlas of minerals in reflected-light

Reflected Light Microscopy: Optical Pathways A tutorial investigating the optical pathways in a reflected light microscope.

Introduction to Ore Microscopy The introductory short course on ore microscopy is held yearly at the University of Geneva and offered to students of several Swiss Universities. We have put in the web microphotographs of typical polished sections used in the course.

 

Glossary of Terms for Soil Micromorphology and the petrographic microscope

Foundations of Soil Micromorphology The role of soil micromorphology in archaeological interpretation

Glossary of terms used with the petrographic (polarizing) microscope

Internet glossary of soil science terms. Official glossary from the Soil Science Society of America

Soil and Mineralogy Glossary A listing of the most commonly used terms and definitions associated with soils, agriculture, geology, and mineralogy.

GLOSSARY OF GEOLOGY TERMS The source document for the definitions is the USDA-NRCS National Soil Survey Handbook-Glossary of Geologic Terms, 1996.

Dictionary of Geologic Terms

Glossary of soil and other terms from Agriculture and Agro-Food Canada.

Illustrated Glossary of Physical Geography from University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point