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Microanalytical Techniques for the Determination of Carbonaceous Aerosols in Remote Air and Snow Samples



J D. Kessler, Lloyd A. Currie, Dale E. Newbury, Eric S. Windsor


Remote ice core, snow, and air filter samples can potentially profile past and present atmospheric characteristics, acting as media to preserve populations of particulate matter. Major constituents of thee aerosols result from combustion processes (fossil and biomass), minerals, and clays. Extraction and characterization of these particles with scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) provide morphological and elemental data used in determining the presence ans sources of atmospheric aerosols. Due to the minute quantity of carbonaceous particles in the snow and ice samples, ca. 1 - 10 ng g-1, the microscopist faces several principal challenges to prepare and analyze these samples. First, methodology must be established for particle removal in a clean and quantitative fashion. Second, since carbon is contained in many of the particles under analysis, techniques must be established to achieve quantitative carbon x-ray data. Instrumentally speaking, the SEM required optimization in order to analyze the greatest amount of particles in the least time. Solving these problems can lead to massive amounts of data connecting aerosols found in remote areas with their sources of origin.
Microscopy and Microanalysis


carbonaceous aerosols, electron probe microanalyzer, energy-dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, ice core, microanalysis, scanning electron microscope


Kessler, J. , Currie, L. , Newbury, D. and Windsor, E. (1999), Microanalytical Techniques for the Determination of Carbonaceous Aerosols in Remote Air and Snow Samples, Microscopy and Microanalysis (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created January 1, 1999, Updated February 17, 2017