The identification of black carbon particles with the analytical scanning electron mic roscope: methods and initial results
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): P. Stoffyn-Egli; T. M. Potter; J. D. Leonard; R. Pocklington
Publication Year: 1997

Cataloging Information

  • biomass
  • black carbon particles
  • Canada
  • carbon
  • combustion
  • fossil fuel
  • fuel management
  • fuel types
  • marine sediments
  • Nova Scotia
  • sedimentation
  • SEM
  • vegetation surveys
  • wildfire
  • wildfires
  • wind
  • wood
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 45174
Tall Timbers Record Number: 20644
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Combustion of fossil fuel and vegetation produces large quantities of black canbon particles (BCP) which are dispersed by winds over large areas. Once deposited in the sediment, BCP constitute an historic record of anthropogenic activities and wildfires. For BCP to be significant environmental indicators, it is necessary to determine their source as precisely as possible. A method has been developed to differentiate BCP from other carbonaceous particles, and to assign them to coal, oil, or biomass combustion using a scanning electron microscope equipped with an elemental detector (Analytical Scanning Electron Microscope, ASEM). BCP were identified in the ASEM as particles with an O/C atomic ratio of less than 0.15. Morphology (shape and surface texture) and trace element content (S and Cl) were used to classify BCP according to source using samples of known origin (oil, coal and wood fly-ash) and marine sediment samples from Halifax Inlet, which has undergone progressive urbanisation and industrialization over the last 250 years. The method is applicable to a wide size range of BCP and complete isolation of the BCP from the rest of the sample is not necessary. © 1997 Elsevier Science B.V.

Stoffyn-Egli, P., T. M. Potter, J. D. Leonard, and R. Pocklington. 1997. The identification of black carbon particles with the analytical scanning electron mic roscope: methods and initial results. Science of the Total Environment, v. 198, p. 211-223.