In the discipline of geoarchaeology, archaeological soil micromorphology – i.e. analyzing thin sections prepared from undisturbed blocks of soil and/or sediment – is an essential technique.
Among others, these thin sections are analyzed using microscopic imaging techniques such as plane-polarized light (PPL), cross-polarized light (XPL) or oblique incident (OIL) light microscopy.
The digitization of the thin sections is getting increasingly relevant, as it clearly facilitates archiving, analyzing or sharing of the microscopic images.
In this context, Gutiérrez-Rodríguez et al. (2018) have outlined in a comprehensive scientific study the need to obtain very detailed and accurate scans and to present these high-resolution data to the scientific community to make micromorphological findings and interpretations more transparent and easier to comprehend.
Accordingly, the authors compared in their study different currently available imaging techniques for the digitization of thin sections. In addition to a flatbed scanner and a film scanner, the Microvisioneer manualWSI manual scanning technique was assessed.
Microvisioneer manualWSI as a superior solution to create highest quality digital images of thin sections
It could be demonstrated in the study that with the Microvisioneer manualWSI technique, clearly the highest image quality could be obtained due to a significantly superior image resolution. This allows not only best quality images for publication and collaboration, but also numerous possibilities for an extended analysis of the images.
As the flexibility of the microscope is fully maintained when used as a manual scanner, the manualWSI approach additionally offers a unique versatility: scanning at various magnifications as well as the use of diverse microcope light settings is possible. With this set-up, Gutiérrez-Rodríguez et al. could acquire high-resolution digital images of thin sections using PPL, XPL, OIL, reflected Light (RL), and UV light settings.
In the example images below, an XPL and a PPL-scan of a thin section can be viewed.
Zoom into scans of thin sections acquired at different light settings!
Image gallery descriptions:
Image (1): XPL scan of a thin section
Image (2): PPL scan of a thin section
Objective Lens Magnification: ~10X Quality with 4X Apochromat Objective (0.16 N.A.)
Microscope: Olympus BX60
Microscopy Light Settings: see image descriptions above
Full study for all details and more information:
Mario Gutiérrez-Rodríguez, Maurizio Toscano, Paul Goldberg: High-resolution dynamic illustrations in soil micromorphology: A proposal for presenting and sharing primary research data in publication. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, 2018