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Please Help: Problems With Cracking Mudstone


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Does anyone have any tips or tricks for how to keep mudstone from cracking and delaminating as it dries out? I recently went to Clarkia in Idaho and came back with a few fossils, including a flower, wrapping them in newspaper and putting them in the fridge as was suggested. They are beginning to crack and delaminate. I was hoping someone could help me think of a way to keep them solid before the leaves are broken. 


Thank you. 



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I prefer a controlled dry over consolidating when wet if possible.


wrap your wet mudstone in wet newspaper or a wet (not dripping) towel. Close this up in a cardboard box or some other container that isn’t air tight. Allow this to sit for 3-4 weeks. After this time, you should have a well dried specimen with minimal cracking. I’be used this method on hundreds of fragile wet specimens with stellar results.


The cracks occur due to the contraction of the surface as the specimen dries rapidly. If you slow the drying process, the cracking is substantially reduced.

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2 hours ago, Ptychodus04 said:

I’be used this method on hundreds of fragile wet specimens with stellar results.

True! I have done the same also with lignite specimens, mostly with good results. Especially when there are no preexisting cracks.


To be on the safe side, try the method described by @Ptychodus04 on one or two lesser specimens. And keep the others wet meanwhile. Just to check that the method really works with your specimens.


Good luck!
Franz Bernhard

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