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A drying oven with temperature set above the temperature of evaporation for water at 105 °C.

Picking the sample

Picking the sample is arguably the most important step in determining the lithology ( [link] ). During this step you will create a sample uniformity to eliminate random minerals, macro contaminates such as wood, and dropstones that dropped into your sediment depth when the sediment was drilled. You will also be able to get a general judgment as to the lithology after picking, though further analysis is needed if chemical composition is desired. Remove sample from drying oven. Take a piece of weighing paper and weigh out 5-10 g of sample. Use a light microscope to determine whether most of the sample is either silt, clay, silty-clay, or sand.

  • Clay grains will have a gray coloration with large flat sub-surfaces and less angulation. Clay will easily deform under pressure from forceps.
  • Silt grains will be darker than clay and will have specks that shine when the grain is rotated. Texture is long pieces with jagged edges. Silt is harder in consistency.
  • Silty clay is a heterogenous mixture (half and half mixture) of the above.
  • Sand is defined as larger grain size, lighter and varied coloration, and many crystalline substructures. Sand is hard to deform with the forceps.
A light microscope being used to 'pick' the sample. The sample is being separated according to the dominant lithology in preparation for chemical analysis.

Pelleting the sample

To prepare your sample for X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis you will need to prepare a sample pellet. To pellet your sample you will need a mortar and pestle, pellet binder such as Cerox, a scapula to remove binder, a micro scale, a pellet press with housing, and a pellet tin cup. Measure out and pour 2-4 g of sample into your mortar. Measure out and add 50% of your sample weight of pellet binder. For example, if your sample weight was 2 g, add 1 g of binder. Grind the sample into a fine, uniform powder, ensuring that all of the binder is thoroughly mixed with the sample ( [link] ).

A mortar and pestle being used to grind the sample to a powder for pelleting in the pellet press. A binding agent (Cereox) is also added using the scapula.

Drop a sample of tin foil into the press housing. Pour sample into the tin foil, and then gently tap the housing against a hard surface two to three times to ensure sample settles into the tin. Place the top press disk into the channel. Place the press housing into the press, oriented directly under the pressing arm. Crank the lever on the press until the pressure gauge reads 15 tons ( [link] ). Wait for one minute, then twist the pressure release valve and remove the press housing from the press. Reverse the press and apply the removal cap to the bottom of the press. Place the housing into the press bottom side up and manually apply pressure by turning the crank on top of the press until the sample pops out of the housing. Retrieve the pelleted sample ( [link] ). The pelleted sample is now ready for X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF).

A pellet press being pressurized to 15 tons.
A completed pellet after pressing.

Xrf analysis

Place the sample pellet into the XRF ( [link] and [link] ) and close the XRF hood. The XRF obtain the spectrum from the associated computer.

A dog sitting on a bed
A Spectro XEPOS X-Ray fluorescence spectrometer.
The inside of the spectrometer where the sample pellets are placed for analysis.

The XRF spectrum is a plot of energy and intensity. The software equipped with the XRF will be pre-programmed to recognize the characteristic energies associated with the X-ray emissions of the elements. The XRF functions by shooting a beam of high energy photons that are absorbed by the atoms of the sample. The inner shell electrons of sample atoms are ejected. This leaves the atom in an excited state, with a vacancy in the inner shell. Outer shell electrons then fall into the vacancy, emitting photons with energy equal to the energy difference between these two energy levels. Each element has a unique set of energy levels, therefore each element emits a pattern of X-rays characteristic of that element. The intensity of these characteristic X-rays increases with the concentration of the corresponding element leading to higher counts and higher peaks on the spectrum ( [link] ).

The XRF spectrum showing the chemical composition of the sample.


  • http://www.usbr.gov/pmts/geology/geolman/chap04.pdf
  • http://petrowiki.org/Lithology_and_rock_type_determination
  • E. H. Williams, A manual of Lithology: Treating of the Principles of the Science with a Special Reference to Megascopic Analysis , Inman Press (2008).

Questions & Answers

anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
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Mueller Reply
advantages of NAA
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