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Re: freeing fossils from matrix
> Date: Sat, 17 Sep 1994 10:17:03 -0400
> Reply-to: Lightwaves@aol.com
> From: Lightwaves@aol.com
> To: Multiple recipients of list
> Subject: freeing fossils from matrix
> Does anyone out there know a safe way to release fossils from the
> matrix holding them?
> I have tried hydrocloric and acetic acid, but in both cases the fossils
> dissolve as well as the limestone, and that's very frustrating.
> fossils are from the deposits in north Arkansas, and the limestone
> hard. Most attempts at chipping the rock away results in explosive
> There are several nice specimens, but they're locked up 'til I can
> out a way to free them.
> Tahnx :-)
> Roger A. Stephenson (lightwaves)
> Morrilton, AR 72110
I agree that the best answer is to use mechanical means. I don't
know the material, but I have dealt with some bones in nodules that
cannot be prepped using acid. If the matrix is softer than the bone I
would go for air abbrasive techniques although you sometimes lose
the outermost thin layer of bone if it is not done carefully. I have
used this technique on phosphatised Carboniferous shrimps, and
have been able to prepare individual blood vessels. Hot/cold preps
are sometimes damaging as well. I have used freeze/thaw on some
Silurian fish nodules which does seem to work. On larger boney
material I would be afraid of cracking through the bone. I guess it is
just trial and error. Experiment on some less crucial material first.
Curator of Palaeontology
University of Glasgow
The first law of Geology is the law of supposition.
(Geological Howlers - ed. WDI Rolfe)