Doing SEM images.

Sample of a Restignolita found at El Hierro in the SEM. Image done by author.

Sample of a Restignolita found at El Hierro in the SEM. Image done by author.

DFM mentioned that i did some SEM images on the ash he sent and that the rsuts were probably stored somewhere in the treasury. This made me realize ( again) noone checks the menu and most people dont know what else we have here besides the posts. So what i am writing now can partly also be found in Gems.

There are 3 very nice microscopes available in the BioLab of the Ars Electronica Center which i may use to do micrscopic images.

A Phei Fenom SEM
Scanning Electron microscope
Here is a link to
PhenomWorld explaining the machine more detailed.

To prepare the samples, (the sample needs to be dead and dry) you place a double-sided adhesive foil on the top and add the sample with pincers. One needs to be very carefull that everything that goes into the SEM really sticks to the foil. Samples which are highly magnetic are a problem. The magnetic fields inside the machine might tear some tiny grains off and this might pollute the SEM. So we try to blow the dust/particles/stuff off with a spray. After doing this, one can place the peg in the charger using the special pincers. Adjust the charger and place it in the SEM.

The Lab also contains a Hirox digital video reflected light microscope. KH770. This microscope also has a program which allows to do 3D videos. We have lenses which either display a magnicafication of 50 fold. ( This is a handheld device and was not used for the ash images.) We also have lenses where you can continuously variable the magnification from 100 to 800 fold.

And then there is a Zeiss transmitted light microscope. Zeiss Axioscope A1. The microscope has lenses which allow a magnification of 100, 200, 400 and 1000 fold. It also has an extra channel using ultraviolett light.

And here is part of the gallery of images i did so far.

On my Flickr you can also find some images of sand from various regions of the world.

El Hierro.
Kilauea / Rope Lava
Mount Hood / Andesit
Newberry / Obsidian
Novarupta / Pumice
Puyehue-Cordón Caulle
Soufrière Hills

All images are available in larger sizes and without the Copyright. If someone wants to use them, please drop an email, asking permission to Spica308(at) . I will get back to you and if you do not wish to make money with my images, there should not be a problem. Whenever the images are used the credits are mandatory. ( Birgit Hartinger, Ars Electronica and Volcanocafe )

I used this material to write a post because VC needs a new one. So in case anyone of you wants to write up something… we ll be glad to look at it and eventually publish it.

I would also love the get my hands on more volcanic ash samples, so if you have one…. please…. get in contact.



104 thoughts on “Doing SEM images.

  1. When you click on the links Spica has kindly provided above for each volcano, you see more microscope images of ash.

  2. I’ll see what I can get there are some goo tuff and and ash outcrops in the layers
    of Basalt that is around NE Oregon….

  3. Spica I am blown away with the precise and diligent work you have put into imaging these samples. I am sure that they will be most useful to students and professionals.
    We in Volcanocafe are privileged to have people such as yourself ,who give their time and expertise so willingly. A huge thank you.
    I need more time to study the photos ( which I should have done before) but on a cursory viewing the ash from El Hierro looks to have a similar “swiss cheese” structure to ash from Grimsvotn and a couple of others, very pale and rounded holes caused by gases.
    It is clear though that each volcano’s ash is different.
    How very fascinating.
    Again thanks for another unique post.

    • Thanks petergerman, that’s a nice link, Schtromboli only merits a footnote, but it has been quite busy…Screenshot from last night showing an explosion and the ejecta/ lava overspill from the previous explosion:

    • I cannot personally see that this would be storm waves showing up. The tremor rose very gradually, (that could be storm) then began to rise dramatically before peaking and falling off again. That would surely have to be a very quick storm unless it was wind speed peaking and the noise if wind noise. Off now to check other stations in canaries as surely they would show some affect also from a major storm.

  4. Hi

    Thanks to Spica for a nice informative post. I’l go dig there too soon more in detail. But it is true that there are al lot of jewels !
    Meanwhile I made this video for Etna, as it is restless to say the least, at the moment.

    Earthquake locations for Etna zone between 2012/02/01 and 2013/02/28.
    Size of dot shows magnitude (see scale with Mag 1 to 4 on one side).
    Color of the dots is also time dependant (colorbar).
    Terrain Elevation is shown. Some locations are shown also.
    The video shows the earthquakes according to different views (side and top, rotating).
    The last part of the video is a rotating zoom centered on the volcano.
    Data from INGV and SRTM.
    Saga Gis was used to get the DEM from SRTM data, made on Gnu Octave, avonv to make the video.

    The first thing which strikes me is that the quantity of events is really low if we compare it to El Hierro (only 269 events in 13 months).
    All in all there seems to be some patterns emerging (look at the yellow cluster).

    • Correction : the color of the dots is event dependant so the color shows the rank of the event among the 269 events. I’ll try to make one time dependant and see if it shows somenthing.

    • I guess the reason for that is that in Etna’s case the conduits are all well established and pretty well open. Boris was talking about a magma reservoir at 20 to 25 km depth, probably sitting on top of that yellow stack in your plot. Most of the other shallower quakes are likely to be purely tectonic or reactions to the local stress field.. /my take on it.

      Great plot! Always wondered what it looked it.

      • Gut feel here… I think you are correct about variations in the stress field.

        But then, what do I know, I have been crawling around on my motor most of the day. It’s actually too cold to do that, but ya got to do what ya got to do. At least I wasn’t tying to change the clutch on 45°F pavement. (tried that about a year ago… too old for it. I don’t have it in me anymore. 😦 )

        Unrelated but true story. several years ago. when I was in the volunteer fire department, I was at a house fire in the north part of the county. This particular day it was God awful cold. I was preparing the front of the house for entry by the attack team. This consisted of a high velocity fog pattern to knock down the flames. I was at the front door and all of a sudden my field of view went white. The sheet rock from the ceiling had flapped down in front of me. About this time my bell went off indicating that I was about out of air. My backup took the nozzle and I went back to get a fresh bottle. My bunker gear (fire fighting ensemble) had the consistency of plate armor. The water had frozen. I had little slabs of articulated ice (frozen fabric). That was not an enjoyable fire. I feel for the family, but they all survived. The family cat didn’t. Part of our crew got yelled at for leaving a small corner of the house burning in order to stay warm. Gawd was it cold. We had to have a heavy duty tow truck come in to get the rear of one of the pumpers out of the ditch. When they started to wrap things up and head back to the station, the ice from the drippage had made a nice sheet of black ice under the engine and it promplty slid off into the ditch.

        And they think it rarely freezes in Florida. It can, and occasionally does. Those few days reached the high heaven. This was also the time frame when my stepson and I wound up stumbling around on burning bowling balls at a house fire. Flaming bowling balls make it hard to get to the front door. They were scattered about the floor in a screened in porch area.

        Ahh memories…

  5. It’s the weekend. Spent most of it crawling around on top of my motor. The oil pressure sending unit is on the back side of the block next to the fire wall. Yee haw. Turns out that it probably was not bad and that my indicator needle had jumped the peg and would not rise up into the proper range. The last time I saw issues with a needle peg was back in service school when one of my classmates had taken a reading off of a 3600 V power supply and literally wrapped the needle of his Simpson 260 around the peg… and then the coil smoked and the faceplate went black (from the smoke).

    Fun stuff meter pegs.

    Great post on the SEM imagery!

    Since it’s the weekend, something for Geoloco.

    Jenny from the Eisenfunk video.

    I would have posted the TechnoViking video, but he was in a parade whose name is not quite… socially acceptable.

    • And I… feel much better now.

      What with all the long drive surveys and trouble tickets… and potentially a catastrophic engine failure on the horizon (which turned out to be a meter peg issue) and having to crawl into my truck from the passenger side to open the drivers side door.

      I have now elliminated the two vexing problems. Meter is no longer hung on the peg, and I replaced my door latch. yay!

      That door latch was a bit of a pain in the rear. “drill out the two rivets”… {blink, blink… those are some big honkin arsed rivots.} Done, but my rivets wont fit the monster holes that are left. {think think think… “Nut and Bolts!”… hmm… ‘but what about vibrations?’ Lock Washers and Epoxy in lieu of ‘loktight’ thread lock, which I have, but can’t find. Murphy’s Law} It ought to work, until some poor soul tries to repeat the door latch replacement in the future. (I don’t really give a shit, and if it’s me, I have no one to blame but myself)

      All in all, I’m quite happy with myself, and thank God that I’m not the one having to cancel Royal engagements because of a case of the screaming shits. 😀

  6. Here is a local NE Oregon Potter Dave Waln-whom I went to high school and college
    with.. He uses St. Helens ash in a lot of his work. the lighter grayer colors are
    usually Glazes of St Helens ash. He uses local clays and materials for his products.

      • Thanks, Dave was taught by one of the best went to College on a football
        scholarship-left with a degree in Art and used it.
        Unlike my BS in Biology…,

          • Dropped out. (twice, 1st time with a .59 GPA, 2nd time with a 3.85. Seems that only course I could pass worth a %@#$ the first time was Calc and CompSci.) Learned how to break radars for a living and to repair almost anything. Sometimes in ways that were never intended.


            The true extent to which the ocean bed is dotted with volcanoes has been revealed by researchers who have counted 201,055 underwater cones. This is over 10 times more than have been found before.

            The team estimates that in total there could be about 3 million submarine volcanoes, 39,000 of which rise more than 1000 metres over the sea bed.



            My only real regrets are not finishing, and not doing four more years in the military. I had a pretty good chance of picking up Senior Chief. No blemishes on my record and I had performed a few minor miracles that the Command and the Squadron were happy with. I think the most stupifying assignment that I had was when a sister ship had failed INSURV (no one fails INSURV… it’s not a normal thing to happen) and I was summarily cross-decked to help them get some of their stuff working. My previous CO had become the Squadron Commander and knew that I had a knack for pulling solutions out of thin air. (sounds better that way… less vulgar)

          • Well I want to report that I am now a persona non grata with DISCUS
            tried several attempt at posting on Eruptions but the gnomes have never
            heard of me I have been purged…
            We hates DISCUS…

  7. Sunday
    03.03.2013 23:41:14 65.183 -17.020 6.7 km 3.0 99.0 8.8 km WNW of Lokatindur
    03.03.2013 23:36:55 65.181 -17.012 0.3 km 1.9 99.0 8.4 km WNW of Lokatindur
    courtesy of the IMO

  8. Several months ago, while driving through a small Florida Town that features a large Chicken on a Trailer parked next to a convenience store, I was taken aback by Stevie Nix waving a “We buy Gold sign” at the oncoming traffic.

    As I drove by, her face seemed a bit un-natural. The complexion was too good. It turns out there was a good reason for this. Despite the “gypsy” garb that she is known for in concerts, it was a mannequin. Everytime I go through there, she still stands waving the sign. Her hair has changed, as has her apparel, but the set-up is the same. To me, she is an icon of the town. I no longer look for the giant trailered Chicken… but I do look for her.

  9. Ah Glad to see Lurking is OK. Lurking’s view of life comments are fun and thought provoking. Interesting experiences and don’t we all empathise with the “sh*t happens stories”?

    So many sub marine Volcanoes… much gas belched out into the atmosphere that is never seen until maybe frozen in ice somewhere…..!.

  10. It is a windstorm now in Iceland. In some places with blizzard and very harsh weather.

    Detection of earthquakes is going to be severely reduced and poor quality.

    There was today a few more deep quakes in Katla and also at Veidivotn. Continuing the trend from previous days.

    This morning I woke up to -14ºC but now the temperature is around a “mild” -5ºC but very windy.

  11. Irpsit stay warm. Do you have to go out to work or can you stay indoors?
    The wind looks ferocious on Hekla the Camera is shaking badly. Akureyri looks stormy and the wind across the water in Reykjavik is blowing the poor birds off course.
    This looks like the place to be in Iceland today. However it may be warm in the water but coming out must be upleasantly cold and clammy!

    • We, living in Iceland, are very hardy people, used to these conditions. Its just the way things are. But I do see a limitation as I enjoy a lot gardening and here in Iceland I am greatly limited by the weather!

  12. Very small, but rather deep quake.
    04.03.2013 17:47:33 63.613 -19.057 23.2 km 0.1 60.7 4.2 km NNE of Hábunga

    • And another quake on target in Torfajokull
      04.03.2013 18:06:28 63.917 -19.216 6.5 km 0.7 54.4 6.4 km N of Álftavatn
      Seems quite an increase in activity there lately.

  13. Another small quake again on El Hierro.
    1195323 04/03/2013 07:58:34 27.7410 -18.0256 14 2.2 mbLg SW FRONTERA.IHI
    It seems that it is just not willing to go back to sleep on that island. A very slight increase in tremor yet again also.

    • The weather was awful in El hierro for the last days.
      A dragon tree 200 years old has been uprooted by the very strong (154 km/h max) winds.

  14. FRI… Mag 5.0 New Britain area out in the middle of Wide Bay and about 115 km S of Rabaul.

    Other than where it’s at… it’s just a Mag 5.0. Not inferring anything other than the crust seems to be festive there.

    • Hi Christian, all I can say is that we have been having quite a lot of these episodes or raised tremor this year. So far they have always died down again, with a period of quiet before more slightly raised tremor. I say ‘slightly’ raised as that is how it looks to us but not sure at what level they have the seismographs set for El Hierro. When there is a large event elsewhere that shows up in the Canaries it always appears less dramatic on the El Hierro seismograph, leading me personally to believe it is set differently to other islands. I am no expert though so I could well be wrong.

    • Hi Christian

      Probalby due to a storm event. Winds got to 154 km/h (gusts) in El hierro and 150 km/h in La Palma. Sea traffic was interrupted, one tree (Drago millenario) 200 year ild was uprooted in El Hierro.

    • Could be the strong winds and high wave amplitudes… The Canaries are being battered by a storm at present, and El Hierro is still on amber weather alert today

      • The 2 cameras linked are zoomed in and I think there is some water/ droplets/ something on the lenses, but definately some action…
        I like Cryphia’s technocam too…

      • I am alive. Etna is erupting,
        but INGV tremour graphs are not updating, so I do not know how much is left of this “show”. It begins reminding of early year 2000, save for Hekla is quiet, still there is change, but might be cause of the approaching storm tomorrow – Snowstorm (for a change) because there has been practically no snow here in Reykjavik all this winter!

        • It’s wet there, but the red glow at top right is Etna; all the cams look “enhanced” because of the weather… (I think)

          • Eruption tonight seems larger than before (no tremour charts, so we know nothing on what really is going on inside Etna)? Anybody know?

  15. Very harsh weather today in Iceland. -13ºC where I am
    Very stormy north winds. Feels so cold!

    But no snow in the ground. Which is terrible for the plants. They just freeze solid and without any protection from the blowing freezing wind.

    Like islander said, we almost did not had any snow this winter, but tomorrow the forecast is for a blizzard.

    This explains the absence of earthquakes in Iceland today.

  16. Volcanoshow when it’s bedtime? Bad timing Etna.
    Have got some nice photos from the ongoing eruption from some of the webcams. Sadly I don’t know how to post them here.

    Links to the cams I have got photos from:

    • You can use and push my images up there, then copy the link and drop it in my posts.

      Only Dragons can make them inline and visible as an image in a normal read. Usually if they help the post quite a bit, a random dragon will come by and make that happen.

      Today, the beaches in and around Destin were closed to swimmers. There has been a sustained on-shore flow in the wind… moisture gearing up and headed north to play in the winter storm due later this week in the Northern US. On-shore flow usually generates serious rip-currents. not something that you really want to play with. Even if you know how to swim out of them, you may drown from the fatique. It usually gets a few people a year.

  17. Thanks Renato and Karen and whoever watched the event.
    I missed it also because the tremor on INGV is not longer updating. In 2 days we wont have any data on the graph anymore if it does not get fixed. Just all black *sigh*

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