Scanning electron microscopy at the core of earth sciences. Reading 4 billion years of history in backscattered light

Start - End 
2019 - 2020 (ongoing)
Department of Archaeology
Other institution(s) 
Department of Geology
Research Focus 
Research Period 
Research Methodology 



This project aims to replace the Dept. of Geology’s aging Scanning Electron Microscope with a model
that is up to challenges of modern Earth Science research in geology, archaeology and soil management. The current SEM is c. 25 years old and has reached the end of its serviceable cycle. Nevertheless, this instrument is pivotal in the day-to-day functioning of the emerging research group of T. Vandenbroucke  and S. Dewaele, who respectively focus on micropaleontology and ore geology/mineralogy, as well as being a indispensible step in the methodological protocol used by all the co-promotors, their research students and
external partners in the study of: microfossils to track ancient episodes of climate change & unravel the root
causes of mass extinction events; ore deposits & minerals to ensure a continued and durable supply of critical resources for our economy; minerals such as zircons to precisely date events in our geological past; artefacts & pottery to understand how prehistoric man lived; pores in building stones to safely restore our architectural heritage and construct new infrastructure; and ocean sediments to explore the deep sea. Its basic and routine functionality at the foundation of a wide range of state-of-the-art, dynamic and productive research programmes in Earth sciences warrant re-investment in a SEM hardware and software dedicated and fully tuned to geological materials and applications.




Thijs Vandenbroucke (promoter)

Department of Geology