Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Geology work experience at its best

Last week was a really good week, with lots of practical work completed with the help of volunteers Millie Lord (Loughborough High School) and Oliver Robinson (Beauchamp College). They were with me to gain work experience during the middle of their A levels, and both plan on studying geology at university. It was fantastic to have two such bright students who were energetic and enthusiastic about geology and the TW:eed project. It was the best volunteer week ever in terms of what we achieved and general enthusiasm levels!

One big job the volunteers helped with was scanning in the 110 new thin sections that arrived last week. A thin section is a 30 micron thick slice of rock, mounted on a glass slide that we can study under high-powered microscopes such as the SEM and polarising microscopes. These thin sections were taken through a selection of different lithologies throughout the Ballagan Formation, in order to further study the sedimentology. Some of them contain abundant fossil material, such as the thin section shown below. 

Thin section of a cementstone that contains abundant ostracods (small microfossils that look like dots on this image), height of thin section is 2 cm

Other work we did during the week was looking for macrofossils (we found bivalves, ostracods and bone fragments), and microfossils (finding fish and plant fragments). They also polished up some of the best cementstone samples, in order to scan in a polished section through the bed and look at the internal structure, sedimentology and fossils. At the end of the week they helped run more samples on the LECO, to analyse the percentage composition of sulphur and carbon within the rock.

Oliver and Millie helping to operate the LECO machine for %C and %S analysis

Millie says: "I have thoroughly enjoyed my week at the Geology Department at Leicester University and would not hesitate to do it all over again! It has definitely made it clear that Geology is want I want to study.”

Oliver says: “It was an absolute thrill to work with Dr Bennett! I’ve learnt so much about post graduate work and the techniques employed for research projects such as this. The placement as a whole has helped me attain some first-hand knowledge about Geology that can’t be found anywhere else for a college student in my position and I am looking forward to see Carys again and see how much progress has been made with this truly fascinating project.”

Thank you Millie and Oliver for all your hard work!

Until next time