ITRAX: description and evaluation of a new multi-function X-ray core scanner
A new automated multi-function core scanning instrument, named ITRAX, has been developed that records optical, radiographic and elemental variations from sediment half cores up to 1.8 m long at a resolution as fine as 200 μm. An intense micro-X-ray beam focused through a flat capillary waveguide is used to irradiate samples to enable both X-radiography and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysis. Data are acquired incrementally by advancing a split core, via a programmable stepped motor drive, through the flat, rectangular-section X-ray beam. Traditional XRF determination of element composition in sediments provides high-quality data, but it takes a considerable time and normally consumes gram quantities of material that is often only available in limited quantities. The ITRAX core scanner non-destructively collects optical and X-radiographic images, and provides high-resolution elemental profiles that are invaluable for guiding sample selection for further (destructive) detailed sampling. This paper presents a description of the construction, characteristics and capabilities of the ITRAX system. High-resolution ITRAX data obtained from sediment cores are also presented and compared with results from traditional wavelength-dispersive XRF analysis at lower resolution. Finally, some recent technical developments linked to the second-generation ITRAX are presented.
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New Techniques in Sediment Core Analysis
Marine sediment cores are the fundamental data source for information on seabed character, depositional history and environmental change. They provide raw data for a wide range of research including studies of climate change, palaeoceanography, slope stability, oil exploration, pollution assessment and control, seafloor survey for laying cables, pipelines and construction of seafloor structures. During the last three decades, a varied suite of new technologies have been developed to analyse cores, often non-destructively, to produce high-quality, closely spaced, co-located downcore measurements. These techniques can characterize sediment physical properties, geochemistry and composition in unprecedented detail. Palaeoenvironmentally significant proxies can now be logged at decadal, and in some cases, annual or sub-annual scales, allowing highly detailed insights into climatic history and associated environmental change. These advances have had a profound effect on many aspects of the Earth Sciences and our understanding of the Earth's history.
In this volume, recent advances in analytical and logging technology and their application to the analysis of sediment cores are presented. Developments in providing access to core data and associated datasets, and advances in data mining technology in order to integrate and interpret new and legacy datasets within the wider context of seafloor studies are also discussed.