Summer 2023 - ARCH 428 D100

Soil Micromorphology (5)

Class Number: 4130

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 8 – Jun 19, 2023: Tue, Thu, 10:30 a.m.–12:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Jun 24, 2023
    Sat, 11:59–11:59 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    ARCH 285 or a minimum of 24 units from any program.



Microscopic examination of natural soils and sediments, and archaeological materials, features and deposits (e.g. ceramics, bricks, hearths and ashes). The techniques are used as a means to interpret 1) the local or regional history of Quaternary landscapes that entails sedimentation and soil formation; and 2) the mechanisms of archaeological site formation. Students with credit for ARCH 367 STT: Soil Micromorphology may not take this course for further credit.


This course is concerned with the microscopic examination of natural soils and sediments and archaeological deposits and features. Soil micromorphology is used to interpret (1) the local or regional history of Quaternary landscapes that entails sedimentation and soil formation; and (2) the mechanisms of anthropogenic site formation. The student will obtain proficiency with the petrographic microscope, including description and interpretation of petrographic thin sections, illustrating how microscopic observations reflect upon geologic and soil phenomena and past human activities and behaviors. The course will be presented weekly as a 2-hour in-person lecture and 3-hour hands-on in person lab. The course consists of background lectures in which the field of soil micromorphology is reviewed, readings on selected topics and instruction in laboratory methods and analysis. Students will conduct their own final project that will be completed during lab hours. The final project consists of a work-up of a few petrographic thin sections from an anthropogenic deposit, or soil profile, or materials collection (e.g., plaster etc.) The thin sections for the final project will be provided by the instructor although students are strongly encouraged to bring and work on thin sections (minimum 5) from their own research projects.


  • Midterm Exam (multiple choice and short answers 25%
  • Labs 35%
  • Final Project Presentation 10%
  • Final Project ( Take-home write up) 30%



Georges Stoops (2018), Guidelines for Analysis and Description of Soil and Regolith Thin Sections, Second Edition, 
eBookISBN: 9780891189763, Free access via SFU library


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at:

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning ( or 778-782-3112) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.

Deferred grades will be given only on the basis of authenticated medical disability.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.