Paper No. 23-2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM
AN ANALYSIS OF THE MINERAL, CHEMICAL, AND MICROBIAL COMPOSITION OF FLUID-FILLED AGATES
Delaware County Community College offers students the opportunity to participate in an honors project. The Physical Geology honors project allows students to learn more about geology and get real-world experience with scientific tools and processes. The specific area of knowledge covered by this project is geochemistry and microbiology. Several different agates were processed and analyzed in order to determine their mineral composition and to look for the presence of microbes. The agates were drilled, and the fluid was extracted in a sterile environment, then cultured on an agar plate. The agates were then cut into one-inch-square pieces with a rock saw, and studied with three different techniques: visual observation of crystalline structure and color, observation with a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), and X-ray diffraction. Data from the visual observation seemed to suggest that the primary mineral in the agates was quartz. Using the SEM provided data about the small black crystals that were useful in identifying it later. The X-ray diffraction tool provided data about which elements were present in the minerals. The data were collated and then analyzed using a tool which uses the percent element compositions of a mineral to cross-references the values with a database of minerals that share those percent element compositions. It was determined that the agates contained quartz and the element manganese.