Day 2 of the Soil Micromorphology course is in the books and it was another long day looking through a microscope. The same general structure as yesterday. The morning lecture covered Hunter-gatherer and low-impact activities on the landscape. The rest of the morning was spent looking at associated thins sections. The afternoon started with a lecture on the evidence for clearance activities and pastoralism in thin sections, again followed by many hours of browsing relevant thin sections from a large reference collection.
As with yesterday I think the lectures were great. It would be nice to have a bit more (or maybe more explicit) explanation of what characteristics identify the various features for the topic at hand. At the same time however, there is something extremely satisfying about figuring it out yourself afterward. In fact I took a very different approach to my time with the microscope today and it proved much more fruitful than yesterday. Rather than blindly looking at slide after slide wondering what I was supposed to be seeing, I re-read through one of my text books and for each concept I would ask the professor for an appropriate slide and then identify the features for that topic. For instance, I read through aeolian sediments and then identified the various components in a photomicrograph that distinguish it and variations on it, including secondary deposition and pedogenesis. I did this for numerous concepts. Next, I took slides for which there are publications with full descriptions and interpretations and went through a particular paper and its relevant slides together.
I didn’t look at as many slide today but I learned way more than yesterday. At the very least the learning curve now has a slight incline. The day was capped by a nice British stout at the pub. I couldn’t believe the pints were only 1.60 pounds, which is about half price of a pint in Canada after the exchange. Then I walked south to Charing Cross station through Trafalgar Square where I caught the train home for the night. I took a great picture of the square all lit up with the fountain on but unfortunately I forgot the cord to connect my camera. Guess you’ll have to wait a week for pictures.
Until tomorrow’s update,