Rocks under the Microscope Zone II Versions EN1 Vol 5 (3) 2020
Micrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China
: 2020 - 04 - 24
: 2020 - 08 - 20
: 2020 - 05 - 11
: 2020 - 08 - 31
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Abstract & Keywords
Abstract: We collected micrographs of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwestern China and built a microscopic-image dataset. This study attempts to present this dataset and introduce the lithic characteristics of representative micro images. A camera-loaded Zeiss polarizing microscope (Zeiss) was used to observe and photograph sandstone thin sections. This microscopic-image dataset contained 318 micrographs of 43 medium-grained sandstone flakes. According to their micro textures and detrital components, the studied sandstone samples were divided into five categories: lithic, feldspatho-lithic, litho-feldspathic, quarto-lithic, and litho-quartzose sandstones. This dataset can be used to assist research on sandstone microscopic observation, classification, and modal composition. It can also be used as a reference for digitization and automatic identification of sandstone petrofacies, which can provide bases for accurate digital identification of sandstone features in the future.
Keywords: Permian sandstone; volcanolithic fragment; southwest China; micrographs; digitization
Dataset Profile
TitleMicrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China
Data corresponding authorYang Jianghai (
Data authorsFeng Wei, He Feng, Zhou Yinsheng, Yang Jianghai.
Time rangeThe rock samples were collected in 2010–2018 from the strata whose stratigraphic age was attributed to the Permian. The polarizing micrographs of rock flakes were collected from 2013 to 2019.
Geographical scopeThe samples were obtained from sections located in the Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi regions in southwest China. GPS: 101°37′43″E–107°01'33"E; 23°08'N–25°35'21"N.
Spatial resolution1000*900–2100*2100 PPI.
Data volume867 MB.
Data format*.png,*.jpg,*.xls
Data service system<>.
Source of fundingNational Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 41872106).
Dataset compositionThe dataset includes two data files: “” and “Information table.xls.” “” is a dataset of polarized photomicrographs (*.png) of thin sections of rocks, which contains 318 micrographs of 43 medium-grained sandstone flakes with a volume of 866 MB. “Information table.xls” represents the sheets that record the profile of the thin sections of rocks with a volume of 36 KB.
1.   Introduction
The microstructure and detrital composition of sandstones form the bases of petrographic classification and nomenclature[1]. Meanwhile the clastic particles of sandstones, especially the various rock fragments, provide the most direct evidence for identification of rock types in a sedimentary source area and have been widely used in sedimentary-provenance analysis of sandstones[2-6]. Dickinson et al.[7-8] summarized the detrital components of modern sands and sandstone from different tectonic settings, and according to detailed division and quantitative statistics, they established a series of triangle-model diagrams to discriminate the plate tectonic background of sediment sources. In recent years, people have paid increasing attention to the objective description and quantitative statistics of the microstructure characteristics and framework composition of sandstones[9-11], emphasizing the accurate identification and precise division of various sandy-grained rock debris[12]. For rock-fragment grains in sandstones, their microstructure and mineral composition can determine their metamorphic grade[13] (metamorphic-source rocks) or magmatic property[14] (volcanic-source rocks). Previous studies demonstrated that the types and contents of metamorphic rock fragments in synorogenic sandstones could be used to track the exhumation and denudation processes of the related orogenic belt[15-17], and those of volcanic debris in synsubduction sandstones could be used to reveal the magmatic evolution of volcanic arcs[18-21]. Although improved in situ analytical techniques and methods, such as electronic microprobe and laser-ablation ICPMS(Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry) analysis of single-mineral particles, have become popular in sedimentary petrology and provenance studies, the basic data provided by sandstone petrography tend to be increasingly important. Simultaneously, researchers have noted that some problems exist with the microscopic observation and statistical data of sandstone petrography, such as the reduction of man-made influence on obtaining more objective petrographic data has become a critical problem that needs to be urgently solved. Therefore, under the guidance of “Deep Time Digital Earth (DDE)” Program, we have preliminarily created a micrograph dataset from Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones in southwest China. This dataset, which is integrated with other relevant datasets, can help develop standards for computer to automatically read the sandstone microstructure and composition.
2.   Data-collection and processing methods
The investigated sandstone samples were collected from 11 locations in the Yunnan, Guizhou, and Guangxi (Dian-Qian-Gui) regions in southwest China. The exact position and GPS information are shown in Fig. 1 and Table 1. The sampling intervals included the Lower Middle Permian[22] in Yunnan Province (Mojiang and Malipo), Upper Permian[3,23-24] in Guizhou Province (Puan, Ziyun, and Zhenfeng), and Upper Permian in Guangxi Province (Napo, Tianlin, Tian'e, and Badu[25-28]).

Fig.   Geological sketch map of East Asia and southwestern China showing the locations of the sampled Permian successions for volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstone samples (revised from the literature [30-31])
Table 1   Sampling profile and GPS latitude and longitude
Sampling profile (Profile Number)GPS
XuePu, Pu 'an, Guizhou25°30'24"N,104°58'40"E
Zaofanshan, Zhenfeng, Guizhou25°32'27"N,105°34'55"E
Sidazhai, Ziyun, Guizhou25°35'21"N,106°09'51"E
Banai, Tian’e, Guangxi25°02'05"N,107°01'33"E
Badu, Tianlin, Guangxi24°42'27"N,105°47'30"E
Natang. Napo, Guangxi23°24'39"N,105°45'49"E
Longlinxi, Malipo, Yunnan23°17'35"N,104°57'53"E
Wusu, Mojiang, Yunnan23°24′59″N,101°39′10″E
Yayi, Mojiang, Yunnan23°14′N,101°44′E
Huilongzhai, Mojiang, Yunnan23°24′22″N,101°37′43″E
Chongtou, Mojiang,Yunnan23°20′34″N,101°41′20″E
2.1   Sandstone petrographic data collection
To collect the sandstone petrographic data, we made a detailed working plan, including the field work for new samples and reprocessing of previously studied samples. All selected sandstone samples were cut up to expose their inside parts, and we subsequently produced thin sections for microscopical observation in the grinding room in China University of Geoscience (Wuhan). Using standard thin-section grinding, the obtained optical rock sections had a thickness of 0.03 mm. The description of the slice and petrographic nomenclature of the sandstones were based on the standard[29] determined from “Rock Microscopic Image Subject” and were numbered according to “Sample number” + “m” + “digital serial number of camera field” + “orthogonal light symbol + or single-polarized-light symbol −.” The image dataset contained 318 photographs with resolution that ranged from 1000 × 900 to 2100 × 2100 pixels.
2.2   Data results
The dataset contained 43 sandstone samples and 318 images. The sandstones were classified using a microscope according to their petrographic structure and composition. Sandstones with low contents of volcanolithic fragments were only included in the microscopic observation but not in the sample description. According to the detrital components of the sandstones and relative contents of quartz, feldspar, and lithic fragments observed in the thin sections, we adopted the simplified Garzanti sandstone-classification nomenclature[32,34] (Fig. 2). Such petrographic nomenclature was based on the quartz, feldspar, lithic fragment, and matrix contents. Greywacke such as the lithic greywacke was classified as a sandstone with ~15% matrix. Compared with the national standard GB/T(voluntary national standards) 17412.2-1998, namely, “Classification and Naming Scheme of Sedimentary Rocks,”[33] the simplified Garzanti classification is detailed and easy to use, which greatly reduces the error caused by artificial estimation of the contents. The obtained sandstone micro images were classified and described according to this classification principle. The identified sandstone types included lithic, feldspatho-lithic, quartzo-lithic, litho-feldsparthic, and litho-quartzose sandstones.

Fig. 2   National Standard SYT17412 and simplified Garzanti[32, 34] sandstone Q-F-L petrographic classifications
3.   Sample description
The developed dataset focuses on the micrographic information of sandstones that contain volcanolithic fragments. By considering the representative samples as examples, the characteristic microstructures and detrital components of the lithic, feldspatho-lithic, quartzo-lithic, litho-feldspathic, and litho-quartzose sandstones are briefly described in the following section.
3.1   Representative sandstone micrographs
3.1.1   Lithic sandstone
Lithic sandstone is mainly distributed in the Lower Permian in Mojiang and Upper Permian in the Yayi section in Yunnan Province as well as in the Upper Permian in southwest Guizhou and northwest Guangxi. The typical characteristics of the lithic sandstone are described by sample SD13-67.
Sample SD13-67 (Fig. 3) is a medium- to fine-grained sandstone and was collected from the Upper Permian in the Sidazhai section, Guizhou Province. The detrital particles had a sub-circular and sub-angular shape with a major size range of 0.1-0.2 mm and a medium sorting feature. It was grayish-black under a single-polarized-light microscope in which the volcanolithic fragments was gray under a plane-polarized light and grayish-black under a cross-polarized light. The detrital components of this sandstone were mainly of volcanic origin with few plagioclase grains, which were altered to carbonate in different degrees. The clastic particles exhibited no obvious orientation and were mainly grain-supported with matrix-supported feature that was locally observed. The volcanolithic fragments exhibited various textures. The main volcanic texture types were lathwork (Lvl) and microlithic (Lvm) with plagioclase size that decreased from Lvl to Lvm and Lvf. Felsitic (Lvf) volcanic fragments were also observed in a minor proportion. These petrographic characteristics defined the lithic sandstones in this dataset.

Fig. 3   Micrographs SD13-67m2− and SD13-67m2+
3.1.2   Feldspatho-lithic sandstone
Feldspatho-lithic sandstones are mainly distributed in the Lower Permian in the Yunnan section (Wusu, Chongtou, and Huilongzhai) and Upper Permian in the Guizhou (Sidazhai and Xuefu) and northwest Guangxi sections (Badu and Natang). Samples WS18-13 exhibited a typical feldspatho-lithic sandstone petrographic feature and is described as follows.
Sample WS18-13 was taken from a lenticular grayish-yellow coarse sandstone bed in the Lower-Middle-Permian succession in the Wusu section of Yunnan Province, namely, the Mojiang Wusu section. The contained detrital grains were sub-angular to angular in shape and had a major size range of 0.1–0.3 mm. They exhibited a moderate sorting characteristic and a grain-supported texture. The interstitial materials were mainly of fine detrital clasts with no obvious cementation. The thin section was brownish yellow, and the lithic fragments were gray-yellowish brown under a plane-polarized light. Under a cross-polarized light, the thin section was reddish brown to brown–black. The framework components of this sandstone were mainly lithic fragments and plagioclase grains. The latter usually assumed an elongated shape and a euhedral form. The former was mainly of volcanic origin (Fig. 4) with few sedimentary and metamorphic variations. The volcanolithic fragments were dominated by felsitic (Lvf) and microcrystalline (Lvm) textures with a small amount of lathwork fragments (Lvl) and orange–yellow volcanic vitrics. The detrital grains exhibited no obvious orientation. These petrographic characteristics defined a feldspatho-lithic sandstone.

Fig. 4   Micrographs WS18-13m2− and WS18-13m2+
3.1.3   Quartzo-lithic sandstone
Quartzo-lithic sandstones are mainly distributed in the Lower-Middle Permian in the Yayi and Longlinxi sections in Yunnan and Upper Permian in the Badu section in Guangxi. Sample LLT-12 was used in this study to illustrate the typical characteristics of quartzo-lithic sandstones.
Sample LLT-12 (Fig. 5) was collected from the Lower Permian pebbly coarse sandstones in the Longlinxi section, southeast Yunnan. A thin section was produced to avoid gravel. It was gray under a plane-polarized light with gray–yellow to gray lithic fragments. It was gray–yellow to gray–black under a cross-polarized light with visible volcanolithic fragment. The detrital grains were moderately to poorly sorted with a main size range of 0.5‒1.0 mm and exhibited an angular to sub-angular shape with a clear grain-support feature. This sandstone was mainly composed of volcanolithic fragments and quartz grains. The latter were all monocrystalline with a wide size range. The former were dominated by felsitic volcanic texture (Lvf) and displayed no obvious orientation. The aforementioned petrographic characteristics defined the quartzo-lithic sandstones.

Fig. 5   Micrographs LLT-12m2− and LLT-12m2+
3.1.4   Litho-feldspathic sandstone
This type of sandstone is mainly distributed in the Lower Permian successions in the Wusu section in Yunnan. Its typical micrographic characteristics are present in Sample WS18-20.
Sample WS18-20 was collected from a grayish-yellow sandstone bed in the Wusu Lower Permian succession. The detrital grains of this sandstone sample were moderately sorted and appeared in a general size range of 0.2‒0.6 mm. Their shape was sub-rounded to sub-angular. The detrital components of this sandstone were mainly feldspar grains and volcanolithic fragments with rare quartz grains. The sandstone thin section was grayish to yellow with grayish-yellow and gray lithic fragments under a plane-polarized-light microscope. Under a cross-polarized microscope, the thin slices exhibited bluish gray to gray–black color. The feldspar grains were mostly angular with an elongated shape and usually exhibited a polysynthetic twin structure. Some of them were partially altered in sericite and clay minerals (Fig. 6). The volcanolithic fragments did not exhibit obvious orientation and had dominantly microlitic (Lvm) and felsitic (Lvf) textures. These petrographic characteristics defined the litho-feldspathic sandstones.

Fig. 6   Micrographs WS18-20m1− and WS18-20m1+
3.1.5   Litho-quartzose sandstone
Litho-quartzose sandstones are mainly distributed in the Lower-Middle-Permian successions in the Yayi and Mojiang sections and Lower Permian successions in the Longlinxi section. Sample Llt-10 of this type of volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstone is petrographically described in detail hereafter.
Sample LLT-10 (Fig. 7) was taken from a medium- to coarse-grained sandstone bed in the Longlinxi Lower Permian succession. The detrital framework grains were moderately to poorly sorted and appeared in a size range of 0.4‒0.6 mm. This sandstone mainly consisted of quartz grains and volcanolithic fragments with a grain-support structure. Under a plane-polarized light, the color of the thin slice was grayish yellow, and the volcanolithic fragments were grayish to gray. Under a cross-polarized-light microscope, the thin slice was bluish gray to gray–black. The volcanolithic fragments mainly had a felsitic texture (Lvf) with a small amount of microcrystalline texture (Lvm). Few silty sedimentary rock fragments were present, which were composed of angular to sub-angular silty-grained quartz particles (Lss) without obvious orientation. These petrographic characteristics were typical of recognized litho-quartzose sandstones.

Fig. 7   Micrographs LLT-10m1− and LLT-10m1+
3.2   Information table for the micrographic database
The thin-section identification table contains petrographic data of 43 volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstone samples. Our microscopic observation suggests that the 43 samples can be mainly grouped into lithic, feldspatho-lithic, quartzo-lithic, and litho-quartzose sandstones with a few being a litho-feldspathic sandstone (Table 2). The sandstone petrographic type and specific proportion of this micrographic dataset are shown in Fig. 8.
Table 2   Summary information on the rock types and quantity of this micrograph dataset
sandstone petrographic classificationQuantity
Lithic sandstone11
Feldspatho-lithic sandstone8
Quartzo-lithic sandstone10
Litho-feldspathic sandstone1
Litho-quartzose sandstone13

Fig. 8   Pie chart of the sandstone types and corresponding percentages
4.   Data quality control and evaluation
The rock samples in this dataset were all collected from the Permian strata in southwest China. According to the detailed field section logging, appropriate sandstone samples were selected to create thin sections of rock, which ensured reliability of the sample source. The thin sections of the sandstone were produced in accordance with national and international standards. The thickness of the sections was ~0.03 mm, which satisfied the requirements of microscopic observation and photography.
The micrographs had high definition and exhibited no color difference. In the microscope-shooting process, automatic exposure and automatic white balance were adopted to keep the color consistent with naked-eye observation and system photographs. The resolution varied according to the different particle sizes, which ranged from 1000 × 900 to 2100 × 2100 pixels. The images were uniformly saved in PNG format. Therefore, the quality and clarity of the photomicrographs were reliable. Simultaneously, we participated in the observation and discussion of the microscopic rock research and micrograph collection, described and summarized the rock characteristics from different angles, and minimized the subjective influence on the rock classification and micrograph description.
5.   Value and significance
This dataset focuses on the micrographic characteristics of sandstones that contain volcanic debris. The collected micrographs of the sandstones are all obtained from our scientific research and investigation and represent part of our work on the Permian–Triassic sedimentary geology in the Dian-Qian-Gui region in southwestern China. This image dataset is created based on accurate field sampling and objective microscopic observation. It can be used in conjunction with other relevant petrologic micrograph datasets. It can provide an important basis for comparative analysis of sedimentary petrology research and used as a basic reference for geoscience-teaching activities. In addition, we expect that the image dataset can provide a standard for artificial-intelligence identification of lithofacies.
Thanks for the invitation of "rock microscopic image project" guest editors Professor Xiumian Hu and Professor Mingcai Hou. Thanks to Meng Qi for his help in photomicrography and to Chai Rong, Wang Yuan, Ma Rui and other scholars in the identification of thin slices.
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Data Citation
FENG W, HE F, ZHOU YS, et al. A micrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China. Science Data Bank, 2020. (2020-04-27). DOI: 10.11922/sciencedb.j00001.00024.
How to cite this article: FENG W, HE F, ZHOU YS, et al.A micrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China. China Scientific Data, 2020, 5(3). (2020-08-27). DOI: 10.11922/csdata.2020.0024.zh.
Data citation
FENG W, HE F, ZHOU YS, et al. A micrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China. Science Data Bank, 2020. (2020-04-27). DOI: 10.11922/sciencedb.j00001.00024.
Article and author information
How to cite this article
FENG W, HE F, ZHOU YS, et al. A micrograph dataset of Permian volcanolithic fragment-bearing sandstones from southwest China. China Scientific Data, 2020, 5(3). (2020-08-27). DOI: 10.11922/csdata.2020.0024.zh.
Feng Wei
Main contribution: field section logging, sample collection, thin section obserbation and petrographic identification, data processing, manuscript writing.
born in Tianjin, postgraduate; sedimentology and paleogeography.
He Feng
Main contribution: field section logging, sample collection, photography, petrographic analysis, data processing.
born in Jiangxi province, postgraduate; sedimentology and paleogeography.
Zhou Yinsheng
Main contribution: field section logging, sample collection, photography, petrographic analysis and discussions.
born in Hubei Province, postgraduate; sedimentology and paleogeography.
Yang Jianghai
Main contribution: dataset design, field section logging, manuscript writing.
born in Hebei province, Ph.D., associate professor; sedimentology.
Publication records
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 ( VersionsEN1
Released: May 11, 2020 ( VersionsZH2
Published: Aug. 31, 2020 ( VersionsZH4