Advanced analytical techniques for studying the morphology and chemistry of Proterozoic microfossils

David Wacey

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

22 Citations (Scopus)
457 Downloads (Pure)


This contribution outlines the suite of advanced multiscalar techniques in the toolkit of the modern Proterozoic palaeobiologist. These include non-intrusive and non-destructive optical, laser and X-ray based techniques, plus more destructive ion beam and electron beam based methods. Together, these provide morphological, mineralogical and biochemical data at flexible spatial scales from that of an individual atom up to that of the largest of Proterozoic microfossils. Here we provide a description of each technique, followed by a case study from the exceptionally preserved Torridonian biota of Northwest Scotland. This microfossil assemblage was first recognized over a century ago, but its great diversity and evolutionary importance has only recently come to light, due in no small part to the research efforts of Martin Brasier.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEarth System Evolution and Early Life
Subtitle of host publicationa Celebration of the Work of Martin Brasier
PublisherGeological Society of London
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2016

Publication series

NameSpecial Publications
PublisherGeological Society


  • microfossils
  • proterozoic
  • Precambrian evolution
  • Torridonian supergroup-scanning electron microscopy
  • transmission electron microscopy
  • x-ray tomography
  • focussed ion beam
  • laser Raman
  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • Secondary ion mass spectrometry
  • 3d visualisation


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