The publication of Backscattered Scanning Electron Microscopy and Image Analysis of Sediments and Sedimentary Rocks marks a significant point in the history of sedimentary petrology. The evolution of the scanning electron microscope (SEM) has now progressed from an interesting but useless machine to a valuable research tool.
I began to use the SEM in the 1970s, shortly after this microscopy technology was introduced to sedimentologists by David Krinsley one of this book's authors. In those days, the SEM was a cumbersome, troublesome machine, more likely to be disabled than operating and incapable of identifying the composition of objects and measuring their properties. As such, it was not an especially useful tool for a petrologist. You could not use it to determine the composition of a sandstone, for instance, nor to quantify properties such as grain size and shape, pore geometry, or the density of surface textures. Indeed the SEM of old offered me and other investigators little more than a tantalizing but frustratingly qualitative view of sedimentary rocks and an ability to acquire great numbers of out-of-focus, poorly exposed photographs, all of which are now rightfully buried in the back of my files.