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Fact Sheet 2011–3098

Coastal and Marine Geology Program

Methods for Processing and Imaging Marsh Foraminifera

By Chandra A. Dreher and James G. Flocks

Thumbnail of Fact SheetIntroduction

This study is part of a larger U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) project to characterize the physical conditions of wetlands in southwestern Louisiana. Within these wetlands, groups of benthic foraminifera—shelled amoeboid protists living near or on the sea floor—can be used as agents to measure land subsidence, relative sea-level rise, and storm impact. In the Mississippi River Delta region, intertidal-marsh foraminiferal assemblages and biofacies were established in studies that pre-date the 1970s, with a very limited number of more recent studies. This fact sheet outlines this project's improved methods, handling, and modified preparations for the use of Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) imaging of these foraminifera. The objective is to identify marsh foraminifera to the taxonomic species level by using improved processing methods and SEM imaging for morphological characterization in order to evaluate changes in distribution and frequency relative to other environmental variables. The majority of benthic marsh foraminifera consists of agglutinated forms, which can be more delicate than porcelaneous forms. Agglutinated tests (shells) are made of particles such as sand grains or silt and clay material, whereas porcelaneous tests consist of calcite.

First posted August 17, 2011

For additional information contact:
James G. Flocks
USGS St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
600 4th Street South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Dreher, C.A., and Flocks, J.G., 2011, Methods for processing and imaging marsh foraminifera: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2011–3098, 4 p.

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