Itrax core scanners (manufactured by Cox Analytical Systems, Sweden) are used in palaeoceanography, palaeolimnological, geological and other “down-core” studies of sedimentary core material. The multi-sensory data can include radiography, optical images, magnetic susceptibility, but most importantly energy-dispersive x-ray florescence (ED-XRF) measurements of elemental abundance. The data can be harder to work with compared to some other palaeoenvironmental techniques because:

  1. Very large quantities of data are produced. ED-XRF measurements can be made every 100-200 μm, so for long core sections, these datasets are large. Simple line-graphs can become problematic, and multivariate analysis can become unworkable on some software.
  2. Images can be very large and need correct alignment. Combining them with line-graphs or other images can be troublesome.
  3. ED-XRF elemental data is compositional, but dimensionless (they do not have units attached e.g. [ppm]). This can make the use of traditional statistical tools and tests problematic.

This guide comes from a series of seminars offered to users of the Itrax core scanner at The University of Manchester Geography Laboratories in 2020.