BOSCORF Introductory course, January 2018

January 2018 saw the first run of a new course delivered by BOSCORF and the University of Southampton: "Techniques and protocols in sediment core description, analysis, data visualization and interpretation". This course was designed for first year PhD students to provide a rapid introduction to the key skills needed for successful analysis of sediment cores and sediment data.

"I really enjoyed the technique and protocols in sediment core description, analysis, visualisation and interpretation course, I learnt many new skills in the three days on the course including: knowledge on how to log a marine sediment core and create as well as edit a digital log to create professional, industry-quality figures. I was taught how to use statistical software in order to work out grain size distribution of samples and find out what sediments made up each sample, as well as spending time in the laboratory analysing smear slides and ITRAX data. The course had lots of diverse activities and I feel more prepared for analysing my sediment cores going into my PhD." Sophie Williams, University of York @Sophiewill_

BOSCORF delivered focused sessions on the curation and sampling of sediment cores, intended to guide students who are new to working with sediments to produce well curated, and re-useable sample stores and datasets. The first day included a session on approaches to logging sediment cores, useful online and paper resources to develop a plan for logging throughout the PhD, followed by a practical session on day 2, to produce a sediment log from a classic core sequence from the Madeira Abyssal Plain. During the logging practical, further skills including the measurement of colour through Munsell charts and a handheld spectrophotometer tested the colour awareness of all students on the course. BOSCORF can produce colour data from both the handheld option (available to borrow for field campaigns of expeditions) and from split core sections on the MSCL-XYZ. Further analytical techniques including the use of smear slides were covered, with a final day practical session on the identification of minerals from smear slides, and the potential applications of these datasets.

course was so useful, already planning my next visit! Great insight into methods i’ll need when sampling for Uruguayan forams and an excellent opportunity to see all the incredible kit, like the ITRAX! Roll on next time to grab samples! " Andrew Mair, University of Leeds, @andy_mair


The University of Southampton component was led by Dr. Charlie Thompson and Dr. Hachem Kassem, and started with a comprehensive session on survey design, sampling protocols and field recording techniques, in preparation for an afternoon on the RV Callista, the University’s coastal research vessel. Aboard Callista, the students were given hands-on experience in collecting sediment samples using van Veen grabs and extracting shallow cores, as well as the hydrodynamic and oceanographic data needed to describe the flow regime within the area between the Bramble sand bank, and along Southampton Water into the River Itchen. This included current profiles and backscatter data using an Acoustic Doppler Current Profiler, density and temperature profiles and Niskin bottle water samples to quantify suspended sediment concentrations. Laboratory sessions covered sample preparation and a number of approaches to describe particle size distribution for cohesive and non-cohesive sediments, namely standard sieving, laser diffraction (Coulter Sizer) and inferring particle sizes from fall velocities within a settling column.  The students were then trained on the use of standard data analysis software to construct particle distribution curves and statistical descriptions of the samples, and estimate sediment transport pathways though grain trend analysis.

The final day wrapped up with an introduction to handling non-destructive logging data, and an overview of all available online resources and literature (available to download on our website).

We are hoping to offer this course to new PhD students in 2019, if you would be interested in this opportunity please email with an expression of interest.