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Fossil Preparation Blog

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About this blog

Look at what I am doing for fossil prep! Come learn with me! I show you what rock I will be working on, the tools and set up I have access to, and how I work the rock and how I clean the fossils! I am new to this and want to become skil

Entries in this blog

Zachster

Episode 4 - My Favorite Trilobite

Hey everyone!

Sorry it has been so long since I last posted.  I have been so busy with school, family life, and lots of technical problems.  But I finally was able to finish my video and I am so excited to share my work with all of you!  

This video is about my latest fossil cleaning, It is my favorite trilobite to date! It is actually a complete body fossil, not just a shell, or a piece of one.  I did learn a few new things this time.  I had some trouble with this one because the air scribe I have is not not suited for microscopic fossils, which is what I am cleaning up.  Because of this I ended up damaging my fossil.  A technique I am trying is to find the edges of the fossil and clean them out before I clean out the middle of the fossil.  I am doing this because the air abrasive is basically a s sand paper in air form.  The top of this trilobite is quite detailed, if I cleaned up the detailed section first it would leave it open to be hit by unintentional air abrasive and thus damaging it.  So I left the top to be done last.  This seemed to work well.  Which is pleasing.  Watch and see how it all turned out!

 

Zachster

Episode 3: The Golden Trilobite!

Hello everyone! Sorry that it has been a while since I posted.  I have been so busy with school.  Physics keeps me pretty busy lol! 

So I have been working on my trilobites.  This time I found out that working with the air abrasive it can be good to point the air parallel with the grooves of the trilobite.  This way I can maximize the removal of the matrix and minimize the removal of the actual fossil. Because the angle of the air abrasive is parallel the force vector has a minimal contact with the fossil and maximum effect.  Check out my video and see what I was able to do!  And a big thanks to the University of Utah for letting me work in their lab, and a big thanks to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program for sponsoring me to work on this project!

 

Zachster

Quick Post: The Bucket

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So I thought that I would do quick little posts along with the more in depth ones. I decided that I can use these to answer questions or explain one thing quickly.

This time I decided that I would talk about the orange bucked I have sitting on the floor. It is a dust trap machine. It uses water to catch the air abrasive material and the rock bits that are cut away by the abrasive. It works really well!! I have been using it for a couple of weeks and I just cleaned out our vacuum and there was no particulate matter in the vacuum!! :) How cool is that!! It is used to pull air out of the box that I have been preparing the fossils in. It helps keep the dust way down! Check out the video!

Big thanks to the University of Utah for letting me work in their lab and for getting the parts together so I can build it! Also a big thanks to the Garage Gazette and to user goodfellow for posting how to make this! here is the link to the instructions on how to build it: http://www.thegaragegazette.com/index.php?topic=65.0

Zachster

How ranges in PSI help clean fossils

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Hello everyone! So i have been hard at work. Last time I damaged a couple of fossils because the PSI on the sandblasting machine was too high while I was working on removing matrix directly off the fossil. This time I learned that higher pressures like 20 or 40 PSI can be useful for removing large amounts of matrix that are not directly touching the fossil. While lower pressures like 5 PSI are useful for removing small amounts of matrix to expose details of fossils. Also it is a good idea to wait to expose details until the entire fossil is mostly exposed and only detail work remains. This is because the more a fossil is exposed and being worked on the higher chances are that details will be erased by the air abrasive moving over the fossil. Even in areas you are not directly working on.

Please watch my video and learn more about it!

Special thanks to the University of Utah for letting me use their lab, and a special thanks to the University of Utah Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program for helping too!

Zachster

Getting Started

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Hey guys! So I thought that I would start a new blog here. I have been looking for videos and other instructional material on line for how to prep / clean a fossil and have not found much. Google did not seem to be to helpful in this matter. I did find a few more things on this forum and they were very helpful. I learned what materials I needed and some techniques of how to clean fossils, but nothing like "Make sure to do this.....", "don't do this....". So I was able to gain access to my School's Palio and geoscience lab, and we put together a fossil prep lab. Now it may not be as fancy as a museum but it works!! And I am excited to work there! I may also be able to go to a nearby museum and be trained in how to do this as well. We will see.

So I have some trilobites from the wheeler shale formation, in Dugway Utah, that I will be practicing on. The point of this is to get my skills high enough to be able to work on other fossils with out damaging them, for a research project I am involved in. In the video I show you what I do and talk about why and also talk about what I do wrong and how I fixed them. Please feel free to talk about this and to give advice.

Here is a video of what I have been able to do so far. I started a youtube channel so that everyone can see what I am doing.

So far I found that if i put a circled groove around the fossil, hopefully deep enough, that when I break the parallel layers of shale below the fossil that it will let the fossil be removed, with some matrix, from the rock. I will then later remove the excess rock off the fossil with an air abrasive / sandblasting machine. After I put the circled groove around my trilobite fossil I put my finger on it so that way it does not fly away when I use the air pen to pop it out. I had some success with this.

I also found that keeping the PSI on the sand blasting machine around 5 PSI was necessary. Anything higher then that and I was damaging the fossils I found this out the hard way. :( I damaged two fossil because I did not check the PSI on the machine before I started. Fortunately they are ones that I own and not some one else. Best check that PSI next time!! Well enjoy my video! and remember please share this with others who are interested in getting started. And feel free to give any advice I would need for a beginner!

Zach

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