This morning I was finally able to get into helping do some lab work for my project. When we were in Brooklands, we took a core sample and Emma has been sorting samples from it and drying them. Now it is time to go through each section of the sample and look for forams.
Picking forams involves taking some of the sample and spreading it out on a tray then looking at it through a microscope and using a wet paintbrush to pick up forams and put them on a slide.
Luckily I am pretty comfortable with a paintbrush, but once I was looking at it under the microscope I realised why I can never paint a straight line… My hand wouldn’t stop moving!
It was almost impossible to pick up a foram without grabbling bits of sand too.
My job was also made more difficult by the fact that I wasn’t very good at spreading out the sand on my try and so I didn’t have a nice thin layer.
The sand isn’t supposed to be this thick!
There were very few forams in my sample, but it turned out that the ones that were there were very easy to spot. They were bigger than the sand grains and were nice and smooth looking so they stood out.
This was a foram I found and put on the slide ready to be sorted.
On the slide there is a gel stuff that is used to thicken icing, but it dries on the slide, then when you use the damp paintbrush with a foram on it, it will make the foram stick to the slide. The good thing about this is that when you need to sort the forams into types, you can use a damp paintbrush again to move them around on the slide.
It was really interesting working with the post-grad students this morning and listening to the questions they asked, as well as the answers. It made me think that maybe part of the nature of science is the questions we ask and constantly asking why? It was also very clear that it is important to be methodical and make sure everything is very clearly labeled.
By the time I had done two hours of picking this morning, I had not even finished one sample. But I was starting to feel slightly nauseated from moving the try around under the microscope and bending my neck to look through it. I am definitely not used to using a microscope!