Welcome to the Earthslides laboratory at Newcastle University. We are a research facility within the McCord Centre for Landscape providing collaborative and commercial services in thin section preparation and analysis.
Thin section micromorphology is a technique that was originally developed in soil science, to look at the formation and structure of soils. It has become an increasingly used tool in archaeological contexts, to examine the formation processes of archaeological sediments and materials. We can think of it as an 'excavation under the microscope' - layers and deposits that are too fine to see easily with the naked eye can be examined in detail under the microscope. The scale of analysis during excavation is not always approproate for studying formation process - we are limited by the size of the trowel. In cases where multiple fine layers are present, such as the Neolithic midden below, the excavation process 'lumps together' multiple episodes of depositon, creating artificial palimpsests. Micromorphology is also useful for examining the boundaries between different deposits - microscopic features can help determine the rate of deposit build up for example, and distinguish between natural and anthropogenic deposits.