SEM Imaging of Rocks of the Finger Lakes Region

Sean Maksimuk, Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester

Buttermilk Falls

Buttermilk Falls State Park is located just outside of Ithaca. The trail begins at the bottom of Buttermilk Falls and continues upwards. An immediate observation one will make is the alternating layers of shale and siltstone. Shales have much finer structures and can be observed as layers, while siltstone appears more like a block of stone (picture, right). The microstructure and composition was also somewhat different.

Sample 1

This sample is from the shale region of the picture above. It is comprised of fine aluminosilicates grains. The small grains with somewhat plate-like morphologies is expected as the samples themselves are plate-like.

Sample 2

The siltstone region is somewhat different in morphology and composition to the shale region. Aluminosilicates, quartz, and Calcium sulfate can be observed. The morphology is also different with plate like morphologies not observable (except for calcium sulfate, which was the minority).

Sample 3

This sample was collected from the upper region of the park. The morphologies were rather different from the samples collected at the lower portion of the park. Aluminosilicates and quartz was observed. It may be interesting to note that no calcium is observed at higher altitude regions, suggesting a difference in aquatic environments.