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Durham University

GJ Russell Electron Microscopy Facility

Geological Specimens

Geological specimens are inherently complex due to the presence of many phases which are often non-uniformly distributed. A backscattered image in the SEM is sensitive to atomic number contrast and is therefore a useful tool for rapidly distinguishing the different phases. The nature of these phases can typically be confirmed by analysing the chemical composition via EDX. Furthermore electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) can provide information on the crystal structure, thereby distinguishing polymorphs as well as being used for more advanced analyses such as strain measurement and texturing. Cathodoluminescence (CL) is a useful tool for characterising growth zones in (say) carbonate minerals and zircons. Quite often 3D information about the specimen is also required, such as for example when analysing the porosity network in shale rock. This is achieved using the ‘slice and view’ technique in a FIB over micrometer length scales.