Traditional thin-section analysis techniques such as tedious manual point counting are time consuming and require numerous measures. The use of visual estimation charts produce results of questionable accuracy. The recent advent of general purpose digital image analysis software, ubiquitous computing, and digital microscope cameras make rapid analysis commonly accessible. This study examines the utility of a trio of software packages for analysis of petrographic thin sections in conservation research. In addition to spatial calibration considerations the study recommends a set of protocols measuring microcracks in quartz grains, phase measurement, and layer-thickness measurement. The protocols are designed to help researchers choose a package and begin work at once.
This research was made possible through Grant MT-2210-02-NC-10 from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT).