We report a new sampling strategy for collecting representative samples of drill core. By splitting the core with a diamond saw into working and archive halves, the saw cuttings constitute a "channel"sample, the best subsample from which to obtain an average mineralogical and geochemical composition of a core. We apply this procedure to sampling core of the lower oceanic crust in the Hess Deep obtained during Expedition 345 of the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (now International Ocean Discovery Program). Our results show that particles produced by sawing range from sand to clay sizes. Sand- and silt-sized cuttings can be sampled with a spatula, whereas clay-sized particles remained in suspension after 12h and could be collected only by settling, aided by centrifuge. X-ray diffraction (XRD) analysis and Rietveld refinement show that phyllosilicates were fractionated into the clay-sized fraction. Thus, collection of both the sedimented fraction and the clay-sized suspended fraction (commonly >15wt% of the total) is necessary to capture the whole sample. The strong positive correlation between the recovered sample mass (in grams) and length of core cut demonstrates that this sampling protocol was uniform and systematic, with almost 1.4g sediment produced per centimeter of core cut. We show that major-element concentrations of our channel samples compare favorably with the compositions of billet-sized samples analyzed aboard the JOIDES Resolution, but the results show that individual billet analyses are rarely representative of the whole core recovered. A final test of the validity of our methods comes from the strong positive correlation between the loss on ignition (LOI) values of our channel samples and the H2O contents calculated from the modal mineralogy obtained by X-ray diffraction and Rietveld refinement. This sampling procedure shows that grain-sized fractionation modifies both mineralogical and chemical compositions; nevertheless, this channel sampling method is a reliable method of obtaining representative samples of bulk cores. With the ever-increasing precision offered by modern analytical instrumentation, this sampling protocol allows the accuracy of the analytical results to keep pace.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology
- Mechanical Engineering