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Activities of the Centre for Micromorphology

The Centre for Micromorphology has four main roles and activities:

  1. Research Projects
  2. Masters Programmes and Workshops
  3. Research Seminars and Symposia
  4. Contract research

 1. Research Projects

Thin Section Mi.622, core BH 89.2, Dutch sector North Sea; Saalian till; turbate structure with 'core-stone'; notice that elongate particles are oriented parallel to the surface of the larger grain; width of view 3.5 mm, plane light.

All members and associates of the CfM are actively engaged in research where micromorphology is a key research tool. The addition of 3D computed tomography has opened up whole new fields of research. Research in the CfM focuses pure and applied research, as well as developing new methods of analysis

Both partners in the CfM have a number of academics and research students working on issues to which micromorphological techniques are relevant. The CfM thus provides an institutional framework for the further development of PhD student projects.

Recent and ongoing PhD research projects within the Centre for Micromorphology include:

  • Archaeological significance of calcium carbonate granules in buried soils (Matthew Canti)
  • Multi-scale analysis of former ice streams (Heather Channon)
  • Micromorphology of iceberg-scoured sediments (Lorna Linch)
  • Varve chronology of the last glacial-interglacial transition in Britain (Alison McLeod)

Newly-funded PhD research projects are advertised on the websites for both departments each Winter. Follow these links for further details:

PhD Opportunities at QMUL

PhD Opportunities at RHUL 


 2. Masters Programmes and Training Workshops

Thin Section O.806, Ballycotton, Ireland; Irish Sea Till; original horizontal structure is destroyed by boudinaging; width of view 18.0 mm, plane light.

One of the key objectives of the Centre for Micromorphology is to provide an international training facility in the preparation and analysis of micromorphological samples. This training facility is organised into two key elements.

Masters Programmes
Both institutions host several Geography/Environmental Science MSc programmes, including  MSc Quaternary Science at RHUL and the  MSc by Research at QMUL. The CfM provides a hub for training in the preparation and analysis of samples, and offers the opportunity for specific introductory training courses for both MSc programmes.

International Training Workshops
The CfM also offers specific training programmes, including the long-running International Training Workshop programme (since 1993), providing training for researchers wishing to develop basic or more advanced skills in micromorphological analysis, including the use of 3D computed tomography. Courses are advertised widely, but please contact us for more details of forthcoming training events.

NEWS: The 8th International Workshop on the Micromorphology of Glacigenic Sediments has now been announced and will take place from Monday 1st to Friday 6th July, 2012, at QMUL. Download the flyer here [PDF 112KB].


 3. Annual Centre for Micromorphology Symposium

Thin Section R.418B, La Tuffière, Switzerland; irregular shaped inclusions of fine material that cross-cut each other; the lower example demonstrates grading in two directions; textural pattern explained as a water-escape structure; width of view 18.0 mm, plane light.

In addition to supporting internationally acknowledged training facilities, the Centre for Micromorphology provides a venue for the sharing of research and good practice in the annual symposium programme. The symposium was launched at QMUL in 2009 and each year alternates between QMUL and RHUL, usually running in early September. The Annual CfM Symposium is the only regular research conference dedicated to micro-scale analysis of soils and sediments, and attracts delegates and speakers from both the UK and overseas. Please contact us for details of the next symposium.

Abstract Volumes from previous Symposia
2012 Centre for Micromorphology Annual Symposium (details to follow)

Previous Symposia
Please click on the relevant link to download the abstracts volume from the relevant year:

2011: Queen Mary University of London, Monday 5th September [PDF 445KB]

2010: Royal Holloway, University of London [PDF 641KB]

2009: Queen Mary University of London


 4. Joint research and Contract work

Thin Section R.669, Lunteren, The Netherlands; concentration of well-rounded pebbles of till and clay in a groundmass with a highly variable amount of fines; all the pebbles possess a strong omnisepic plasmic fabric; notice that most pebbles (partially) show a plasmic fabric that is parallel to their surface; the ground mass has a weaker plasmic fabric; cross-polarised light.

The CfM is available for access on a research contract or consultancy basis, for thin section production, tomographic scanning or for micromorphological analysis of samples. Contract work will be organised on a commercial basis subject to available capacity.

Enquiries for the production of thin sections should be directed to Dr Adrian Palmer.


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