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More Exposure For The Microfossil World


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The collector of microfossils must master a different set of unique challenges: processing, examining, photographing, identifying, storing, and displaying microfossils can be a vastly different undertaking from the other disciplines in paleontology. This sub-forum was established to facilitate ease of sharing and discussing the specialized 'tricks of the trade' used to explore this tiny, fascinating realm.

Let's get small!

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sixgill pete

Awesome, it is about time. :) Let me be the first to say!

How about a Lee Creek rarity to start this sub-forum off.

Cetorhinus maximus , Basking Shark

post-4130-0-95782000-1363737286_thumb.jpg post-4130-0-74245900-1363737251_thumb.jpg

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I love the idea of a micro area. :)

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And what about existing threads? My 'Adventures in Microscopy' thread and Mikecable's microphotography thread could potentially be placed here.

Edited by Missourian
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Happy! Happy!!

Very Happy!!!

Thanks.

I'll do my best to make the category a winner,

Did I Say I'm happy!!!!!

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Awesome, it is about time. :) Let me be the first to say!

How about a Lee Creek rarity to start this sub-forum off.

Cetorhinus maximus , Basking Shark

attachicon.gifIMG_0315.JPG attachicon.gifIMG_0314.JPG

Can you give us the size, and any tips on how you collected it (ie: screened/mesh size?, magnified search?...)

We've in mind for this to be more of a clearinghouse for technique than a "Show Your" forum. :)

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And what about existing threads? My 'Adventures in Microscopy' thread and Mikecable's microphotography thread could potentially be placed here.

We'll undertake to move them here; just not tonight! ;)

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Lmshoemaker

I'll certainly keep my eye on this one, seems like a lot could be learned from it once it gets up and running..

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A great forum, getting even better. My thanks to mikecable for the pitch and to Auspex for the catch!

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A great forum, getting even better. My thanks to mikecable for the pitch and to Auspex for the catch!

I second that!

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PA Fossil Finder

Now we need a microfossil of the month.

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Now we need a microfossil of the month.

If it doesn't fit in vertebrate, invertebrate, or plant, the award is a foregone conclusion!

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Lmshoemaker

My chemistry teacher said he'd be willing to help me break down some new albany shale with some of the school's acids.. What should I do after it's dissolved, go straight to sieving?

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My chemistry teacher said he'd be willing to help me break down some new albany shale with some of the school's acids.. What should I do after it's dissolved, go straight to sieving?

I don't know much. But I would carefully decant and pour off any suspended solids--not likely to be fossils. Then I would dry the material thoroughly. I have spread it like icing on parchment paper on a cookie tray, and cooked it at 200 F for an hour or so. Then I sieve it. Depending on what you are looking for you might go down all the way to less than 50 microns, but if you are new to this I'd say don't go much past 500--250 microns. This would be basically a #30 to a #60 US Standard Sieve.

While you might be able to snag a photo of something smaller, trying to actually collect and mount something that small verges on landing back on the balance beam after a triple squiggly quadruple double backtwist with a corkscrew.

What sieves do you have?

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I think this is a great idea too! I've only ever used the slow and tedious hand sort method.

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Lmshoemaker

I don't know much. But I would carefully decant and pour off any suspended solids--not likely to be fossils. Then I would dry the material thoroughly. I have spread it like icing on parchment paper on a cookie tray, and cooked it at 200 F for an hour or so. Then I sieve it. Depending on what you are looking for you might go down all the way to less than 50 microns, but if you are new to this I'd say don't go much past 500--250 microns. This would be basically a #30 to a #60 US Standard Sieve.

While you might be able to snag a photo of something smaller, trying to actually collect and mount something that small verges on landing back on the balance beam after a triple squiggly quadruple double backtwist with a corkscrew.

What sieves do you have?

Thanks, the only size sieve I have is a size 120.

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Thanks, the only size sieve I have is a size 120.

A 120 will capture everything above 0.125 mm or 125 microns. That's almost everything. If it were me I'd separate out the larger stuff with an improvised sieve--a kitchen sieve or something made from window screening.
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Lmshoemaker

A 120 will capture everything above 0.125 mm or 125 microns. That's almost everything. If it were me I'd separate out the larger stuff with an improvised sieve--a kitchen sieve or something made from window screening.

By "larger stuff" do you mean micros, or just large-ish chunks of rock that may have not broken down all the way?

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Sorting by size is a good first step; breaking any tedious task into bite-sized pieces can preserve your ability to concentrate for when it really matters :)

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By "larger stuff" do you mean micros, or just large-ish chunks of rock that may have not broken down all the way?

I was thinking larger micros, but I just did some research on Albany Shale--conodonts and plant spores seem to be the predominant microfossils. The 120 sieve should be a good size for capturing almost all of the conodonts. Plant spores may pass through it.
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Lmshoemaker

Ok, my teacher yesterday started experimenting with different acids, and hydrogen peroxide (30%); it seems phosphoric reacted the most of the acids, but overall the peroxide blew everything else away. Unfortunately it will be a week before I can get back and see if there is anything there. We used small samples, so most likely there won't be any fossils, but this is a good way to see which yields the best results in breaking down the rock.

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  • 2 weeks later...

For carbonates and shales with abundant calcite (test with 10% HCl first) we use Formic acid in this ratio: 1 kg sample in 5 liters of water with 550 ml of Formic acid. I usually run 2-4 kg samples for Conodonts, and leave for 24-36 ours to avoid etching, this is a very standard method. Wash and sieve with 10, 35, and 100 or 120 mesh sieves, and then dry it. I recommend being gentle, don't try and force it, it may take multiple runs, especially with shales.

For shales I simply immerse in hydrogen peroxide until it reacts, wash and repeat until all the shale is consumed, which may break down completely, it may not if there is some silica cement (such as you may encounter in some hard black shales).

Cory

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