Specialization courses

Curs d’especialització intensiu en Micromorfologia de sòls

Curs d’especialització intensiu en Micromorfologia de sòls


Micromorphology is a study technique in earth sciences that describes, interprets, and measures the components, features, and fabrics of soils, regolith materials, and cultural components at the microscopic and submicroscopic levels. Undisturbed samples are required to see the arrangement and relationship of individual soil particles or components as they occur in nature, therefore thin sections, observed through polarising microscopes are normally used.
This course will comprise lectures, exercices with thin sections provided by the lecturers and also with material brought by the participants and visits to a thin section lab. Both analogic and digital polarising microscopes will be available, with a maximum of 2 participants per microscope, as well as facilities to work with them during extra time and to discuss the participants own thin sections with lecturers and colleagues. A certificate issued by the University of Lleida, under the auspices of the International Soil Science Society and the Institut Cartogràfic i Geològic de Catalunya will be handled to the participants who attend a minimum hours of lectures.
The contents of the course are:
- Principles of mineralogy and petrography, optical mineralogy
- Micromorphology sampling and making thin sections
- Guidelines for the description of thin sections of soils and regoliths, plant components.
- Micromorphology of soil materials and identification of soil formation processes: soils with carbonates and gypsum, volcanic soils, clay accumulation, hydromorphic soils, tropical and highly weathered soils, glacial and periglacial processes, organic materials and faunal activity.
- Micromorphometry and image processing.
- Soil genesis and classification
- Geomorphology
- Paleosols
- Archaeology
An optional weekend excursion around the Tremp basin, to discuss on geology, Mediterranean soilscapes and soil genesis is also offered (information and costs will be informed upon arrival).
The lecturers are experienced professors and researchers from the Universities of Lleida, Barcelona, Calabria, Colegio de Potsgraduados (Mexico) and La Laguna.


  • Introduction, sampling techniques, thin section preparation
  • Optical mineralogy, mineral identification in thin sections
  • Thin section description: microstructure, components, pedofeatures
  • Systematics of description of thin sections
  • Argillic, spodic, oxic and vertic materials. Freeze-thaw and hydromorphic features
  • Applications in geomorphology and paleopedology
  • Plant components
  • Mediterranean and arid soils: carbonates and gypsum
  • Archaeological applications
  • Introduction to micromorphometry
  • Humus layers and organic material

23rd Sept 9:00-10:00 Reception of participants 10:00-11:00 Introduction and sampling techniques 11:30-12:30 Thin section preparation 12:30-13:00 Sampling techniques: field demonstration 15:00-17:00 Identification of plant components in thin sections 17:30 Bus from Lleida to Tremp 24th Sept 9:00-11:00 Optical mineralogy 11:30-13:30 Optical mineralogy 15:00-17:00 Identification of minerals in thin sections 25th Sept 9:00-11:00 Thin section description: 3D/2D, fabric concepts 11:30-13:30 Microstructure 15:00-15:30 Presentation of the region (Pallars Jussà) and Geoparc Origens 15:30-17:30 Mineral and organic components 26th Sept 9:00-11:00 Microstructure 11:30-13:30 Mineral weathering 15:00-17:00 Groundmass and b-fabric 17:00-18:00 Visit to the collection of soil monoliths ICGC 27th Sept 9:00-11:00 Pedofeatures 11:30-13:30 Pedofeatures 15:00-17:00 Systematics of description of thin sections and exercises 28th Sept Optional excursion (morning) 30th Sept 9:00-11:00 Site formation processes 11:30-13:30 Personal work 15:00-16:30 Anthropogenic features 16:30-18:00 Personal work 1st October 9:00-11:00 Mediterranean and arid soils: carbonates 11:30-13:30 Personal work 15:00-16:30 Mediterranean and arid soils: gypsum 16:30-18:00 Personal work 2nd October 9:00-11:00 Applications in geomorphology and paleopedology 11:30-12:30 Personal work 12:30-13:30 Humus layers and organic material 15:00-16:00 Faunal excrements 16:00-18:00 Personal work 3rd October

Admission and registration

Graduate students doing their MSc or PhD theses dealing with soil micromorphology will be prioritized in case of exceeding the maximum number of candidates.

Other information

Students. graduate or post-graduate candidates on Geology, Geomorphology, Agronomy, Geography, Soil Science, Archaeology and any related earth sciences are welcome.


The rate in force at the time of issuance of the title will be applied

09/04/2024 until 16/09/2024



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