Geoscience Research

Geoscience Research

The Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MSCL) system range was born from the requirement to understand geological samples in more detail without damaging the core for future analysis.  Since the first MSCL system in 1990, Geotek has continued to innovate and progress adding more sensors and designing new core logging platforms to benefit a range of different geoscience research areas including:

  • Palaeoclimate Studies
  • Limnology
  • Marine Geology
  • Terrestrial Geology
  • Petroleum Research

  • Unconventional Resources
  • Mineral Exploration
  • Ice Core Logging
  • Core Repositories
  • and many more

A Digital High Resolution Record of the Sub-surface

At great expense, thousands of metres of geological core are acquired each year from both onshore and offshore environments to study a huge variety of geoscience applications. These geological cores are a finite resource, requiring careful sub-sampling, cataloging and describing in order to maximise their scientific value.

Geotek’s Multi-Sensor Core Logger (MSCL) and X-ray Computed Tomography (CT) technology sets out to characterise geological cores in more detail but, crucially, also non-destructively. These datasets are a perfect accompaniment to a geological coring campaign or research cruise.  They produce a detailed archive of the physical and geochemical properties of all core material, which can be referred to at a later date, used to guide destructive sampling and, most importantly, used to answer a range of scientific questions. The ability of MSCL systems to acquire a wealth of information on the physical and chemical properties of geological cores means that almost anyone who is interested in the analysis of geological materials would benefit from the use of an MSCL.

The benefits of MSCL to both the scientific community and industry have been documented several times over the years for example by Rothwell (2006) and Vatandoost et al. (2008). These papers, including some of the older publications (e.g. Schultheiss and Weaver, 1992; or Gunn and Best, 1998), describe the benefits of continuous data curves of physical and chemical data enabling scientists to extract additional value from their core samples, or even enabling the discovery of the unknown. The MSCL data provide a level of quantification of sediment properties at a resolution that otherwise would be unachievable without expensive labour costs and destructive point sub-sampling.

Typical MSCL-S Dataset
Typical MSCL-S Dataset

Palaeoclimate Studies and Limnology

Physical property logging, imaging and XRF core scanning for palaeoclimate and limnological research often requires logging systems to provide the highest resolution possible in order to investigate the fine-scale nature of these sediments. XRF core scanning using the Geotek XRF Core Logger (MSCL-XZXRF) or XRF Core Workstation (MSCL-XYZXRF) can be achieved down to a 0.1 mm resolution.  Using a helium-flushed measurement cell coupled with a short source-sample-detector geometry we are able to detect with ultra-high sensitivity a full range of elements including the light elements like Mg, Al and Si. The multi-sensor approach to all our systems allows limnologist and palaeoclimate scientist to maximise laboratory equipment time by acquiring 5K linescan images and 50 micron resolution X-ray laminographs to provide an unparallelled view of the core in a time-efficient manner.

Geotek has integrated a range of sensors onto our core logging platforms for these studies including:

  • Colour spectrophotometry
  • X-ray fluorescence
  • Magnetic susceptibility

  • Near-infrared spectrometry
  • Linescan imagery
  • X-ray radiography and laminography

X-ray Laminography for Limnology and Marine Geological Applications

Geotek has developed a unique X-ray image analysis technology called laminography whereby a sequence of ‘slabs’ at increasing depths cross-core (with the depth direction being along the source-to-detector axis) are extracted from a 2D image acquisition. This is akin to optical imaging where features within each slab are brought into focus, with other features being blurred out.

Laminography is therefore a fantastic alternative to a full 3D scan, as a full 3D image of the core may not always be necessary. The example below is of a lake sediment core with multiple parallel laminations In the example you can see how in Image C a gravel appears within the 2 cm slab but is absent within the in 1 cm slab. The technique is perfect for identifying the depth of ice-rafted debris or gravels from within a split core or whole core.

Geotek Laminography example

Marine and Terrestrial Geology

Over the last 20 years the Multi-Sensor Core Logger has become the standard for quantifying the physical and chemical properties of unconsolidated sediment cores or rock cores. The Multi-Sensor Core Logger is the only system that is capable of acquiring both physical and chemical properties simultaneously from geological core samples at resolutions ranging from a few mm to tens of cm depending on the requirement.

Whilst Multi-Sensor Core Loggers have long been used in the onshore laboratory after field work, many institutions have installed MSCL systems in containerised laboratories or vessel laboratories for offshore field acquisition or multi-sensor core logging at the drill site. The ability to mobilise non-destructive core logging equipment to site enables scientists to make critical decisions in the field to inform sampling plans and science objectives. Examples of this methodology were described by the BRITICE-CHRONO team, and by the BBC in a programme describing the IODP Expedition Leg 365.

The scientific community uses MSCL data for a variety of different purposes including:

  • Stratigraphic definition
  • Lithological determination
  • Core to core correlation
  • Core to log correlation
  • Enhance depth-time conversion
  • Core to seismic correlation through impedance and synthetic seismograms

  • Correlation between physical and chemical stratigraphy
  • Mass movement identification
  • Core quality assessment
  • Density, porosity and water content profiles
  • Sub-sample planning

Multi-Sensor Core Logger Dataset at 1 cm resolution downcore
Multi-Sensor Core Logger Dataset at 1 cm resolution downcore

Reference List

There are many hundreds of papers, articles, posters and presentations which have been published using MSCL data and it is not possible to list them all, however a selection of papers that describe different uses of MSCL data is provided below:

Gunn, D.E. & Best ,A.I. 1998. A new automated non- destructive system for high resolution multi-sensor core logging of open sediment cores. Geo-Marine Letters, 18, 70-77.

Hunt. J. E., Wynn. R. B., Masson. D.G., Talling. P. J., Teagle. D. A. H. 2011. Sedimentological and geochemical evidence for multistage failure of volcanic island landslides: A case study from Icod landslide on north Tenerife, Canary Islands. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 12, Q12007.

Kuras. O., Shreeve. J., Smith, N., Graham. J., Atherton. N. 2016. Enhanced Characterisation of Radiologically Contaminated Sediments at Sellafield by MSCL Core Logging and X-ray Imaging. Near Surface Geoscience 2016 – 22nd European Meeting of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics

Last. W. M., and Smol. J. P. 2002. Tracking Environmental Change Using Lake Sediments Volume 1: Basin Analysis, Coring and Chronological Techniques. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht

Schillereff, D. N., Chiverrell, R. C., Croudace, I. W., and Boyle. J., F. An Inter-comparison of μXRF Scanning Analytical Methods for Lake Sediments. Croudace, I. W., Rothwell, G. R. (eds.), Micro-XRF Studies of Sediment Cores, Developments in Paleoenvironmental Research, 17. Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015.

Schultheiss, P.J. & Weaver, P.P.E. 1992. Multi- sensor core logging for science and industry. In: Proceedings of Ocean ’92, Mastering the Oceans Through Technology, 26-29 October 1992, New- port, Rhode Island, Volume 2, The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc., New York, USA, 608-613.

Rogerson, M., Weaver, P. P. E., Rohling, E. J., Lurens, L. J., Murray, J. W. & Hayes, A. 2006. Colour logging as a tool in high-resolution palaeoceanography. In Rothwell, R. G. (Ed) 2006. New Techniques in Sediment Core Analysis. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 267, 99-113.

Rothwell. G. R., and Rack. F. R. 2006. New techniques in sediment core analysis: an introduction. In Rothwell, R. G. (Ed) 2006. New Techniques in Sediment Core Analysis. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 267, 1-29.

Vardy. M. E., L’Heureux. J-S., Vanneste. M., Longva. O., Steiner. A., Forsberg. C. F., Haflidason. H., Brendryen. 2012. Multidisciplinary investigation of shallow near-shore landslide, Finneidfjord, Norway. Near Surface Geophysics, 10, 267-277.

Vatandoost. A., Fullagar. P., Roach. M. 2008. Automated Multi-Sensor petrophysical core logging. Exploration Geophysics, 39, 181-188.