Geological image processing of petrographic thin sections using the rotating polarizer stage
Goodchild, J. Scott.
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One of the fundamental problems with image processing of petrographic thin sections is that the appearance (colour I intensity) of a mineral grain will vary with the orientation of the crystal lattice to the preferred direction of the polarizing filters on a petrographic microscope. This makes it very difficult to determine grain boundaries, grain orientation and mineral species from a single captured image. To overcome this problem, the Rotating Polarizer Stage was used to replace the fixed polarizer and analyzer on a standard petrographic microscope. The Rotating Polarizer Stage rotates the polarizers while the thin section remains stationary, allowing for better data gathering possibilities. Instead of capturing a single image of a thin section, six composite data sets are created by rotating the polarizers through 900 (or 1800 if quartz c-axes measurements need to be taken) in both plane and cross polarized light. The composite data sets can be viewed as separate images and consist of the average intensity image, the maximum intensity image, the minimum intensity image, the maximum position image, the minimum position image and the gradient image. The overall strategy used by the image processing system is to gather the composite data sets, determine the grain boundaries using the gradient image, classify the different mineral species present using the minimum and maximum intensity images and then perform measurements of grain shape and, where possible, partial crystallographic orientation using the maximum intensity and maximum position images.