Big data in microstructure analysis: Building a universal orientation system for thin sections Academic Article uri icon


  • 2018 Elsevier Ltd We present an orientation system for thin sections used for microanalysis, applicable to both billets and cores. The orientation system enables spatially referenced observations and consists of three parts. First, we establish a reference corner that is the uppermost corner of the sample on the thin section, in its original geographic orientation in the field or laboratory setting. This corner is tied to a right-hand coordinate system, in which all reference axes point downward. A geographic direction-based, rather than uppermost corner-based, convention for a reference corner can be substituted for projects that utilize sub-horizontally oriented thin sections. The reference corner - combined with orientation metadata - define a unique position of the thin section in geographic space. Second, we propose a system of small saw cuts (notches) that minimizes the number of notches required on the sample, to distinguish both the reference corner and the orientation of the thin section relative to fabric (e.g., foliation/lineation), if present. The utility of a notching standard is that it provides an inherent doublecheck on thin section orientation and facilitates sharing between users. Third, we develop a grid system in order to locate features of interest on the thin section, relative to the reference corner. Any of these systems referencing, notching, and gridding can be used independently. These systems are specifically designed to work with digital data systems, which are currently being developed, allowing researchers to share microstructural data with each other and facilitating new types of big data science in the field of structural geology.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Tikoff, B., Chatzaras, V., Newman, J., & Roberts, N. M.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Tikoff, Basil||Chatzaras, Vasileios||Newman, Julie||Roberts, Nicolas M

publication date

  • January 2019