Conservation vs investigation of amber: A risk assessment to determine whether amber is altered by micro-CT or confocal microscopy studies



Type:

Poster

Event:

Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) Cardiff

Year:

2014

Authors:

Bertini M, Ball AD, Mellish C, Burgio L, Shah B, Pretzel B, Blagoderov V, Goral T, Sykes D, Summerfield R, Steart DC, Garwood RJ, Spencer ART, Ross A, Penney D

Abstract:

Amber represents an invaluable “time capsule” preserving fossil inclusions in three-dimensions. As such, amber collections are subject to considerable demand by researchers wishing to examine the specimens trapped within. Many institutions, however, restrict the analysis of important inclusions using state-of-the-art imaging methodologies yielding high quality three-dimensional reconstructions, including micro-computed-tomography (µCT) and confocal microscopy. This is because it is presumed that both techniques have the potential to physio-chemically alter the amber matrix, but the short-term and/or long-term effects of these analytical methodologies are unknown. In this study, the chemical characterization of a number of samples of different types of amber was carried out using Raman and FTIR spectroscopy, prior to and after exposure to X-rays in a µCT scanner and to laser illumination using confocal microscopy. Additional exposure to synchrotron X-rays was carried out on a few sub-samples. Subject to the parameters specified in this study, neither µCT nor confocal microscopy appeared to alter the amber matrix chemically or visually.  Hard synchrotron X-rays, however, imparted a visible discoloration to irradiated amber and copal samples.

Poster:

Poster_SPNHC_2014

PDF:

Download (.pdf): SPNHC 2014 Poster PDF