The separation of silt-sized minerals by specific gravity is made possible by using a nontoxic, heavy liquid medium of sodium polytungstate and water. Once separated, the silt-sized heavy-mineral fraction is prepared for analysis with a scanning electron microscope equipped with an automatic image analyzer and energy-dispersive spectrometer. Particles within each sample are sized and sorted according to their chemistry, and the data are tabulated in histograms and tables. Where possible, the user can define the chemical categories to simulate distinct mineral groups. Polymorphs and minerals that have overlapping compositions are combined into a group and differentiated by X-ray diffraction. Hundreds of particles can be rapidly sized and classified by chemistry. The technique can be employed on sediments from any environment.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Separation and identification of the silt-sized heavy-mineral fraction in sediments
U.S. Geological Survey ;
U.S. G.P.O. [distributor],