Environmental Application of Organic Petrology
Dr. Hamed Sanei
Geological Survey of Canada (GSC)
3303-33rd Street N.W., Calgary
Alberta, T2L 2A7
The Environmental Application of Organic Petrology Working Group was formed at the 45th Annual Meeting of the ICCP held at Chania, Crete, Greece in 1993. The original objectives of the Working Group under A. Depers & J. Bailey guidance were:
- to review case studies where organic petrology has helped to solve environmental problems;
- to compile information on methods and instrumentation used in case studies, with the ultimate aim of producing a standard procedures document; and
- to compile a bibliography of published papers, unpublished open file reports, abstracts from symposia, and unpublished data into a "user-friendly" and accessible format (for example, as an ASCII computer file or converted to a commonly used word processor language).
Additional objectives developed between 2000-2006 under M. Mastalerz guidance were as follows:
- to develop a classification scheme of anthropogenic matter that could be helpful in petrographic characterization of different types of systems that are either produced or affected by industrial/human activity (fly ash, soil/sediment, water, air); and
- to prepare a digital atlas of anthropogenic particles from different sources. The main purposes of this atlas are to: a) help identification of anthropogenic particles under microscope, and b) to help identify the source of the anthropogenic particles.
The direction the group will take from 2007 on is outlined as follows
- It is essential to test the applicability of the Atlas of Anthropogenic Particles by examining more samples of an anthropogenic nature. The new editions of the Atlas may include future input of information in the current body of work as the results of exchange and classification of the available data by participating associates.
- Organic carbon forms a significant portion in the global cycling of carbon. Furthermore, recent findings suggest that organic matter play an important role in distribution and accumulation of hazardous substances such as mercury, other heavy metals, and Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs). Therefore, there is an increasing demand for studying the organic matter in recent surface deposits, riverine systems, lacustrine and marine environment. In conjunction with various geochemical techniques, the optical characterizations of the recent organic matter will play an important role in documenting and source apportionment of organic carbon in environmental systems.
Reports and materials available:
- White Paper. Edited and compiled by A.M. Depers and J. G. Bailey in 1994 (available upon request to the convener)
- Bibliography on Environmental Applications of Organic Petrology. Compiled by J.C. Crelling, A.M. Depers, J.C. Hower, M. Mastalerz, M. Glikson, and P.K. Mukhopadhyay in 2001 (available upon request to the convener)
- Atlas of Anthropogenic particles (available to purchase through ICCP editor at a cost of 16 €, postage included)
The main purpose of this atlas is to help to identify and describe anthropogenic particles from any environment or site of deposition and determine their source. To serve this purpose, images are grouped into two sections:
1) anthropogenic particles classified by source, including particles from well-defined sources (for example, power plants, coke plants)
2) anthropogenic particles classified by the site of their occurrence (for example, soil, air, water).
The atlas includes 543 images compiled from 2002 to 2005. Most images were taken under a reflected light microscope (both with dry objective and in oil), although some images are included from scanning electron microscopes (SEM) and transmission electron microscopes (TEM). Only images from well-defined sources are included in the atlas, but the details of each description vary, depending upon the level of confidentiality related to the source.
At the 2008 Meeting the convener reviewed the activities carried out over the years and made some proposals for future work. Possible actions for the future are:
- testing the applicability of the classification to study environmental samples, focusing on the study of unconsolidated sediments
- preparing a special volume to be published in a peer-reviewed journal about the various applications of organic petrology in environmental issues,
- adding to the atlas some guidelines to help to classify the particles.
- A more specific proposal will be prepared during the year.