This is a partially developed activity description. It is included in the collection because it contains ideas useful for teaching even though it is incomplete.

Initial Publication Date: October 22, 2012

This activity was developed during the workshop, Teaching Climate Change: Insight from Large Lakes, held in June 2012.

Initial core description using ImageJ

by Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Shana Ederer, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Alison Smith, Kent State University

Topic: Initial core description using ImageJ

Course Type: Upper-level undergraduates and first-year graduate students

Learning Goals

Students should be able to do the following:
  1. Understand the principles and terminology of sediment description using an actual sediment core
  2. Identify facies and recognize lithostratigraphic principles
  3. Learn effective techniques of scientific documentation
  4. Execute image analysis using ImageJ software


Part I: Working with sediment cores
Students work in groups of 3-5 people to analyze multiple sediment cores from the same site. Initial description will involve introduction of key concepts such as grain size, color (Munsell color charts), contamination, varves, and color as an indicator of organic content. Students will develop technical descriptions of each core using concise and appropriate terminology.

Part II: Analyzing images of sediment cores
Students will work with downloaded images from CoreRef and conduct analyses using ImageJ software, generating graphs for Gray Scale and other attributes.


  • Write a technical description of the core for evaluation by the lab instructor.
  • Brief practice exam at discretion of instructor.

Materials Needed

  1. Image J Website for download of ImageJ/NIH freeware:
  2. Library of core images for analysis with ImageJ (primarily marine):, go to Core Viewer
  3. Sediment cores