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The story behind a sediment sample

As a laboratory technician understanding the origin of samples you’re analysing is invaluable. In February 2023 had the chance to visit sample location sites in the Philippines and discovered there is more than meets the eye. I learnt that the samples I received are a product of the environmental surroundings, and those surroundings are steeped in a rich history and culture. This became very apparent on our visit to ‘Gold Street’, Baguio, where artisanal miners chisel away in km long tunnels in an attempt to strike gold. Ore retrieval like this can be risky, however, for many in the region this is the main source of income. The story behind a sample is often something you do not think about when busy processing away in the lab… The surrounding lithology and terrain that the sediments originate, the depositional conditions that lead to the accumulation of sedimemts, and the human influence in terms of mining waste; all these factors build a story of the sample that is hard to understand unless physically there.  I am grateful for having had this opportunity to visit the Philippines and learn about the mining processes from large scale mining corporations to artisanal miners, and the chance to see the rivers from which the samples were collected. I am now ready to provide a more holistic interpretation of the samples in the coming months! ~ Richie