Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 171–179 | Cite as

A new method for the determination of absolute abundance of diatoms and other silt-sized sedimentary particles

  • Reed P. Scherer


The determination of absolute abundances of diatoms in paleolimnological and paleoceanographic studies is now becoming a routine step in diatom paleoecological investigations. Several distinct methods have been described for establishing absolute diatom abundance. Each of these methods has its own strengths and weaknesses. The most common weakness in diatom preparation methods is the use of aliquot subsampling from an assumed ‘well-mixed’ diatom suspension. Described here is a simple, efficient and inexpensive method that utilizes settling of diatoms through a 10 cm water column, which yields an effectively random distribution, and uses no aliquot subsampling. Only a few milligrams of sample are needed, permitting microstratigraphic analysis of, for example, individual varves. The method is shown to be both reproducible and accurate for sediments ranging in diatom concentration from less than 10 million to more than one billion diatoms per gram. Multiple slides or SEM stubs can be simultaneously prepared. The method works well for the analysis of most silt-sized microfossils or other sedimentary particles.

Key words

diatoms methods absolute abundance microfossils paleolimnology paleoceanography 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reed P. Scherer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeographyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA

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