One woman's quest for geological understanding!

Foraminifera under the microscope – A learning experience

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Today has been a day for joyful microscope experimentation!

I recently received a Thin Section (TS) / Slide of Holocene Foraminifera from the Philippines (3357 feet).  Not my area of expertise at all, but very pretty.  And after years of seeing studies where foraminifera were used as proxies for climate change in geological history, and spending so much time incorporating these into my project course and personal research, it seemed a great idea to actually look at some under the microscope.   Towards the end of this process, I realised that I could NOT have chosen a slide which was more difficult from my collection.   But, I have actually learnt a lot in the process, and am now buying books on foraminifera to extend my knowledge.

Armed with my new calibration slide I have taken photos, added scale, and attempted to identify them to the best of my ability.  I failed.  Miserably.  🙁  The forams are not completely in focus (see thumbnails below). But I will NOT take this sitting down!

The problems which I have encountered:

1) Lack of knowledge / information available to identify the forams down the microscope.

2) The slides I own are of full forams, and not a thin section of ~10µm (hence the issue with the photography)

  • Obtain flat forams or flat parts in a foram and place them on the flat side
  • Obtain thin sections ~10µm thick
  • Compensate for the short depth of a microscope camera lens. if ~5-15% of each object is sharp, 7-20 images could be taken in steps and then stacked – I will download the Picolay freeware to attempt this later this week.

All of these suggestions come from an expert in the field, from the Foraminifera Gallery.  Thanks again, Michael!

It should be noted that their database project relies on the contributions of both scientists and non-scientists worldwide!

It might be that I only contribute samples, but I would also like to learn more about what I find and how to identify the different Genus.

Despite this post being originally lacking in precision – in both identification and photography – I feel confident that this is an area of geology which will hold my interest for many moons to come… watch this space!  In the meantime, enjoy the (not so great) pictures I did capture. 🙂

Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

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Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

Foraminifera © Cathrene Rowell

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References / Bibliography



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