Instant geochemistry from mountain tops to the mid ocean ridges: X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) Spectroscopy on the move

Lead Research Organisation: National Oceanography Centre (WEF011019)
Department Name: Science and Technology

Abstract

Non-destructive, high-resolution, sediment and rock core scanners incorporating XRF spectrometry and other sensors are a key technique in petroleum, mining and environmental industrial applications and are now widely used in the earth and environmental sciences. They have radically improved our capability to understand naturally occurring and man-made processes in the terrestrial and marine environments. What is currently missing is an adaptive system that can provide instant geochemical compositions, including rare-earth elements (REEs), of hand specimens and sediment cores within field and laboratory situations. Furthermore, immediate analyses in the field may allow strategic changes to sample collection and site selection based upon geochemical results in the field. Such equipment provides precise and accurate field measurements that can represent primary data or be used to inform later laboratory protocols. NERC science currently does not have access to the market leading Olympus XRF Vanta M, the only sensor with REE capability that can be integrated with the Geotek Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MCSL). This instrument will allow BOSCORF to facilitate simultaneous XRF and geophysical properties analysis of sediments and other environmental samples and will further enhance BOSCORF's internationally recognised reputation of excellence. The addition of a Vanta system will substantially fill an analytical gap to significantly extend workflow.

The seagoing-component of the XRF will introduce new opportunities to the science party and will allow a more efficient use of ship time (one day at sea costing ~£35k; £100 per laboratory analysis). Currently, the majorities of samples taken at sea are laboratory analysed post expedition. Thus, repeat expeditions are necessary to further investigate the field site, which is an expensive and time-consuming process for the scientists as well as for the funding agency. Near-real to real time assessment of rock and sediment compositions with a portable XRF will provide a dynamic decision support while being in the field, i.e. sampling strategies can be orientated towards the most promising targets, resulting in a cost and time efficient field campaign with maximum output for budget and science.

The MSCL systems at BOSCORF enable a suite of geophysical measurements to be obtained rapidly, accurately and automatically on sediment or rock cores. Only Olympus portable XRFs can be integrated with the Geotek MSCL-XYZ system that BOSCORF currently has. No other portable XRF can be installed for automated sediment/rock core logging and combined with physical property sensors. MSCL-XYZ is a unique automated multi-core logging system for undertaking various surface core measurements. By adding the Vanta to this system multiple core sections (up to seven 1.5 m core sections), can be loaded onto the workstation, which are then logged in a single operation. This provides low user interaction system to collect high quality data rapidly.

XRF System advances include:
1. The Olympus Vanta M will include a high kV source (up to 50 kV) offering the ability to obtain information on the REEs that are not possible from many other portable XRFs on the market.
2. The Olympus Vanta series benefits from market-leading signal processing technology called "Axon". Axon technology is a software development that optimises the detector to provide higher X-ray counts per second and faster results. This will allow users to operate on a typical 15 second analysis time.

Planned Impact

The NMF and BOSCORF provides a centralised community facilities for supporting marine and environmental sciences. These centralised facilities provide the science community with analytical capabilities that would otherwise be inaccessible to most researchers. Therefore the asset will have a wide impact across NERC science.

Measuring impact:
Impact will be reviewed annually by the BOSCORF Advisory Group and evaluated against the LRI KPIs and benefits realisation plan.

Science Impact:
BOSCORF is key to enabling research on sediment cores from a range of environments, which are critical for research into past environmental change, natural hazards, sustainable use of natural resources and pollution. Science impact will be monitored through BOSCORF contribution to peer reviewed publications.
International community impact: BOSCORF and NMF actively promotes and facilitates interdisciplinary and collaborative research; expansion of research and industry networks in the UK, EU and worldwide. Through the dissemination of specialised knowledge and innovation of new developments in core analysis and curatorial protocols, BOSCORF plays a major role in the international science community.

Environmental and economic benefits:
The usage of a portable XRF on seagoing expeditions will have a significant impact on the funding budget of a project and also on ship time resource. Due to dynamic decision processes at sea, the best possible samples can be collected, reducing the need for follow up expeditions to the same site, i.e. no additional ship costs for another expedition (£700,000 for six weeks) , consequently freeing up ship capacity for other research project and commercial charter. In addition, pre-screening of samples will allow scientist the best choice for additional laboratory analysis post expedition, that are often more expensive (e.g. 1 day LA-ICP-MS at £650) than potable XRF analysis, reducing the project costs.
Furthermore, new scientific users could be attracted to the usage of the NOC/NERC ships due to the availability of the XRF asset, extending the diverse use of the already flexible capacity of the ships.

Dynamic sampling strategy at sea will reduce the amount of unnecessary ship transits during field campaigns, fuel usage will also be reduced, which will have a positive impact on the environment. In addition, the usage of the portable XRF will help to reduce the chemical waste; currently, many hazardous chemicals are used on board of research ships (and within laboratories) to undertake geochemical analysis (often toxic for the environment and with H&S risks with regard to transport, storage und usage). On the other hand, portable XRF only has two main hazardous parts: a) X-ray source which isolated by safety switches and locked into a static position during the operation of the device; b) Li-ion batteries power the system, but are routinely present on the ships as part of other technologies such as AUV's. The usage of the portable XRF would reduce or potentially avoid the requirement for specific hazardous chemicals during expeditions, thus reducing the amount of hazardous wastes and provide a cost-saving on disposal charges, especially in the non-UK ports that do not operate strict waste management regulations, and shipping costs which overall allow to cut the global footprint of CO2 which is one of NERC's major long term strategy.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Collaboration with the National Oceanography Centre 
Organisation National Oceanography Centre
Department Marine Geoscience
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The team has been testing new methods for analysing Massive Sulfide Deposits and rock samples from mid ocean ridge sites
Collaborator Contribution Providing samples for testing
Impact Nothing yet
Start Year 2021
 
Description Collaboration with the university of southampton 
Organisation University of Southampton
Department Ocean and Earth Science
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The BOSCORF team has undertook the experimental XRF analysis of fish powders. The aim is to produce a new method for identifying provenance of farmed and wild fish in the food industry.
Collaborator Contribution Juliet Wilson and Clive Truman provided thousands of prepared samples
Impact Publication anticipated in 2022
Start Year 2020
 
Description 3D filming 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Creating a 3D digital scan of the BOSCORF to produce a interactive online engagement tool
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=D4SbcWR5xm1
 
Description Facility Demonstration 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Suzanne Maclachlan and Miros Charidemou - demonstration of BOSCORF services to Wessex Archaeology staff
https://www.wessexarch.co.uk/archaeological-services?gclid=CjwKCAiAg6yRBhBNEiwAeVyL0CCxcD0hGm-l5i2-zk27zklYx_atKwl8YFPD3WepklnSEXN49sg1IxoCxFEQAvD_BwE
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Facility Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact A tour of the BOSCORF facility for new NOC staff members
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Facility Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Subsea7 BORA Launch Tour
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.subsea7.com/en/media/company-news/2021/the-national-oceanography-centre-and-subsea-7-lau...
 
Description Facility Tour 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact BOSCORF Facility Tour for members of 10% For the Ocean Funders
https://www.10percentfortheocean.org/
08/10/2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited participant 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact BOSCORF Advisory Group Annual Meeting
Online: 11 May 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited participant 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited participant to contribute towards the NERC Statement of Community Need for NERC Scientific Support and Facilities: Feedback Response
for the Statement Title: TESCORF: the terrestrial sediment core research facility
Lead: Virginia Panizzo
24/12/2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited participant 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact NOC Science Showcase for the NERC Science Committee
20/10/2021
Presentation of the role sediments play in the informing past/future climate and geohazards.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited participant 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact RISeR project annual meeting.
Suzanne Maclachlan was invited to provide expertise on XRF core scanning and the relevance to chronolgy
https://riser.leeds.ac.uk/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited speaker 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker (Suzanne Maclachlan) at the NERC Head Office Keeping Connected - Session 2 COP26
20 July 21
Online event
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited speaker 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Invited speaker (Suzanne Maclachlan) at the Marine Facilities Advisory Board to lead the discussion on the requirement for a NERC rock repository.
Online meeting - 25 March 2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://noc.ac.uk/files/documents/about/ispo/Marine_Facilities_Advisory%20Board_March_2021_minutes.p...
 
Description Invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation of the BOSCORF scientific services to the Ocean BioGeosciences Group at the National Oceanography Centre - 22/9/2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Participation (Suzanne Maclachlan) in a NOC Philanthropy Facility Tour. Speaking to visitors and demonstrating the science outputs 10/11/2021
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Seminar presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact 35 attendees from Royal Holloway, University of London. Talk by Dr. Suzanne Maclachlan from the National Oceanography Center, Southampton (NOCS) who presented the NOCS and its research in Marine Geology and the British Ocean Sediment Core Research Center (BOSCORF).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Seminar presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 35 academic and postgraduate researchers from the Southampton Marine and Maritime Institute attended an online seminar. Title: 'BOSCORF - how can we support your research?'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Seminar presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 28 academic and postgraduate researchers from the School of the Environment, Geography and Geosciences, University of Portsmouth attended an online seminar. Title: 'BOSCORF - how can we support your research?' Invited talk as part of a seminar series
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Web article 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Web article highlighting the long established collaboration between BOSCORF and GEOTEK.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.geotek.co.uk/2021/03/11/27-years-of-mscl-scanning-at-boscorf/
 
Description Workshop facilitator 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact BOSCORF held a bespoke sediment core descriptive logging workshop for Marine Geologists from Royal Holloway, University of London - 26/11/21
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021