Palynology

The role of the palynology laboratory is to extract pollen, spores and other organic-walled microfossils from sedimentary rock samples so that they are available for a range of studies, including biostratigraphical dating, palaeoenvironmental analysis, climate change impacts and studies of biodiversity. Other recent contributions have been in the fields of forensic geoscience and in the derivation of Quaternary tills to understand ice-sheet dynamics. The laboratory is equipped with two fume cupboards and has a state-of-the-art waste disposal system designed and built in the BGS workshops.

Example of Umbellasphaeridium
Example of Oligosphaeridium

Samples prepared in the laboratory in recent years have ranged in age from late Precambrian to Quaternary, and have come from the U.K., Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea and Ghana. In addition to pollen and spores, palynomorphs obtained from these samples have included acritarchs, dinoflagellate cysts and chitinozoa. BGS staff using the palynology laboratory collaborate with staff in other laboratories, notably with isotope geoscientists from NIGL and staff of the BGS organic geochemistry laboratory, to correlate palynological data with datasets from other geoscience disciplines.

In addition to being a sample preparation facility for BGS alynologists, the palynology laboratory has carried out research and development work in recent years to establish preparation techniques that do not involve the use of hazardous chemicals such as hydrofluoric acid. These preparation techniques, which are based on the disaggregation of samples rather than their dissolution in acid, have produced impressive results from rocks as old as the Carboniferous.

Contact

For further information, please contact Dr Stewart Molyneux