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Department of Chemical and Geological Sciences

Content class: petrographic analyzes

  • CFU: 6
  • SSD: GEO/07


This course provides a solid preparation for learning basic and advanced petrochemical analytical techniques. Sampling methods and preparation techniques to best represent the case-study will be discussed, in order to obtain reliable analysis with the lowest possible contamination. The best use for these analytical methods and their operating and functioning principles will be presented also in relation to their limits and reliability. Data processing and calculations will also be illustrated.


The course of “Petrographic methodologies” requires basic knowledge of mineralogy, petrography and petrology. As regards Mineralogy, the student must possess knowledge relating to: Crystallography: The crystalline state. Symmetry in crystals. The crystal lattice, the unit cell. Physical properties of minerals. Optical properties of minerals. The mineralogy optical microscope. Crystalchemistry: mineral structure: coordination polyhedra. Compact structures. Polymorphic transitions in minerals. Mineral chemistry, isomorphism. Classification of minerals: Minerals natives; carbonates; sulphates; Oxides and hydroxides; Sulphides. Classification of silicates. Nesosilicates. Sorosilicates. Inosilicates. Phyllosilicates. Tectosilicates. As for Petrography and Petrology, the student must possess knowledge relating to: Geometry of the plutonic, subvolcanic and extrusive magmatic bodies. Chemical and modal classification of the magmatic rocks. CIPW norm. IUGS classification. The methods in studying the magmatic processes. Magma sources: melting processes in mantle and crust. Magmatic diversification. Magma characteristics in various geodynamic settings. Petrogenesis of the Metamorphic Rocks. IUGS metamorphic rock classification. Study of metamorphic rocks at the petrographic microscope and by using chemographic diagrams.

Course Syllabus

Sample preparation techniques for petrographic analyses. Thin sections. Rock crushing, sieving and milling. Mineral separation (with heavy liquids, isodynamic magnetic separator, with binocular microscope). Loss on ignition. Calcimetry. FeO titration. Atomic absorption spectrometry. X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry. Electron Microprobe in situ multi-elemental analyses. Outlines of ICP-OES, MS, ICP-MS, LAM-ICP-MS, SIMS. Infrared spectroscopy and FTIR, Raman, fundaments of synchrotron sourced analyses with X and IR sources. Data precision, accuracy and basis of management.

Reference texts

C.S. Hutchison (1974) Laboratory Handbook of petrographic Technique. John Wiley & Sons. H. Rollinson (1993) Using geochemical data: evaluation, presentation, interpretation. Longman Group UK. G. Faure (1986) Principle of Isotope Geology. 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons. Materiale didattico fornito dal docente.

Teaching methods

Classroom lessons are dedicated to discuss the theoretical basis. Sampling and sample preparation will be experienced during practical laboratory sessions. Analytical techniques available in UNIMORE will be presented and tested by students. Student will learn basic data processing and statistics on geochemical data along with the use of standard software for statistic handling and basic modelling of the results.

Verification of learning

Knowledge will be verified by an oral test. The student must demonstrate the knowledge of theoretical basis, operating principles of different analytical techniques and discuss when their use is most appropriate. The student should discuss sample preparation techniques and the appropriateness with respect to the expected analytical process also referring to contamination sources. Student should also discuss limits and meaning of the different techniques. The ability to apply knowledge and skills will be tested on a specific analytical technique from sample preparation to analysis and data processing. Communication skills will be evaluated based on clarity of expression, justification of chosen technique and cross correlation of the results. At the same time an open discussion on analytical choices versus expected results and starting materials will provide evidence for the independency of judgement of each candidate and his learning capabilities.

Expected results

Upon the positive completion of the training course the student should be able to: 1) Knowledge and understanding Know the methodologies useful for a representative sampling; Know the techniques for sample preparation and handling in relation to specific analyses; Explain the structure and functioning principles of the different methodologies; Define when a given technique is useful; Recognize limits and strengths of the different methodologies; Describe the basic procedures of the different methodologies; Describe the basic data processing. 2) Applying knowledge and understanding Choose the most useful sampling procedure in order to obtain representative samples of the studied object; Choose the best sample preparation techniques in relation to the analytical technique and controlling the possible contamination of the sample; Handle petrographic analyses and some of the microanalytical techniques discussed in the course; Process, plot and interpret data based on the techniques used in the course. 3) Making judgements Evaluate the reliability of petrochemical, microanalitycal and isotopic data in terms of precision and accuracy; Compare and evaluate different petrochemical, microchemical and isotopic datasets from different analytical methodologies and labs. 4) Communication skills Present in a clear, readily understandable and rigorous way the acquired data and analytical procedures; Know the different professional figures involved in high performance analytical processes; Consider and respect the different visions and opinions of the other component of the working team; Efficiently communicate analytical results in English; Use appropriate information technology tools to collect, process and publish data ad results. 5) Learnig skills Autonomously understand the technical evolution of the methodologies discussed in the course; Recognize the peculiarity of each technique in terms of theoretical principle, procedure and expected results.