Scanning Microscopy


Cathodoluminescence (CL), the emission of visible light during electron bombardment, was first used in sandstone petrology in the mid-1960's. CL techniques are especially useful for determining the origin and source of quartz and feldspar, two of the most common constituents in elastic rocks. CL properties of both minerals are dependent on their temperature of crystallization, duration of cooling, and/or history of deformation. Detrital quartz and feldspar are typically derived from igneous and metamorphic sources and luminesce in the visible range whereas authigenic quartz and feldspar form at low temperatures and do not luminesce. Quantification of luminescent and non-luminescent quartz and feldspar with the scanning electron microscope, electron microprobe, or a commercial CL device can allow for the determination of origin, diagenesis, and source of elastic rocks when used in conjunction with field and other petrographic analyses. Future expansion and documentation of the classifications and causes of CL in these minerals may increase the usefulness of CL techniques in sandstone petrology.

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