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Prepping Microfossils From The Gulf Coast Eocene

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Herb

Very nice post! Thank you.

If it is a clay you can use multiple washings and decanting with warm water, if you don't want to use chemicals. You are done when the water runs clear. The Eocene micros seem to harden after they are dried. I dry small batches of matrix in the microwave, put them on a paper plate and cover them with a paper towel, works fast and doesn't heat your kitchen. TSP in a bucket will also help break down matrix.

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Pterodactyl

An amazing post. Thanks for the information!

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Rumi

Another option for a petroleum distillate to break down matrix is ordinary kerosene -- easy to use, cheap, and readily available. It is moderately volatile, so there is no lingering odor after use. My procedure is just to place the sample in a 1-liter Pyrex beaker, add kerosene to cover the sample, soak the sample for 24 hours, then decant the kerosene back into its container for re-use. Add about 2 tablespoons of sodium carbonate (washing soda, Calgon, any cheap "automatic dishwashing powder"), and water to almost fill the beaker. Boil on a hotplate for 2-4 hours, then sieve. That's it. The small quantity of residual kerosene in the sample will completely volatilize in the boiling process, so no residual odor. This procedure works well on most relatively soft shales; it does not work with most limestone or dolomite samples.

I will often treat indurated shales with about 10 freeze-thaw cycles, to break down the matrix into smaller fragments, before going to the kerosene procedure.

Nothing original in this procedure: it was widely used in micropaleontology labs in the 1930's, at least.

Rumi

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