The Philosophy of Conducting a Fluid Inclusion Study
To think of fluid inclusion analysis as a “black box technique” is a grave mistake. A fluid inclusion study is not something that one “just does” — it requires a more scientific methodology, first involving the formulation of specific questions along with conceivable hypotheses for possible outcomes. Such a philosophical approach is necessary because very commonly the fluid inclusion data that are required to answer a particular question may not be present in the rocks! So, a more structured approach may allow recognition of such a predicament at an early stage in a proposed fluid inclusion study, preventing the ordeal of wasting considerable effort in the collection of meaningless data.
The authors know of many horror stories in which a research supervisor has told a student, consultant, or subordinate to “do a fluid inclusion study” on some set of samples. Of course, the doleful soul taking the orders assumes it must be possible because the boss told him to do it, and feels compelled to come up with data no matter what the fluid inclusion population looks like. Time and time again, these researchers spend months conducting a fluid inclusion study on material that may not have the fluid inclusions appropriate for answering a particular set of questions. For example, if the research supervisor wanted to know the temperature and salinity from which some authigenic mineral precipitated, the subordinate would feel compelled to find primary fluid inclusions in that mineral, whether they were present or not. The subordinate would deceive