X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) of pyrite-permineralized fruits and seeds from the London Clay Formation (Ypresian) conserved in silicone oil: a critical evaluation

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Pyrite-permineralized fruits and seeds from the London Clay Formation (Ypresian; England) in the NHMUK are stored in silicone oil to retard decay processes. X-ray micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) has revealed internal morphology for multiple holotypes (including severely cracked and encrusted specimens) scanned in the protective fluid. Silicone oil alone has a similar X-ray attenuation to parts of the specimens, causing minor uncertainty for digitally rendered surfaces, but key systematic characters are readily visualized. Further work is needed to optimize visualization of fine-scale cellular detail. Labelling and segmentation to visualize important structures is achievable with these micro-CT datasets. However, manual labelling of individual slices is required, and defining boundaries between features can be difficult due to differential pyritization and silicone oil permeation. Digital sections through specimens can be made in any orientation and digital locule casts can be produced for studies in virtual taphonomy. These achievements have been accomplished with minimal risk to specimens, which remained in silicone oil and were studied within the museum. The datasets provide a potentially permanent record of at-risk specimens, can be made widely available to researchers unable to visit the collections and to other interested parties, and they enable monitoring for future conservation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)697-711
Number of pages15
Issue number9
Early online date16 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016

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