Paper No. 13
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-5:30 PM
EXAMINATION OF PALEONTOLOGICAL OBJECTS USING THE LARGE CHAMBER SCANNING ELECTRON MICROSCOPE
Paleontology has extensively used scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) in the study of fossils. In the present investigation, analyses on bones were carried out using SEM and EDS. All samples were studied at the same time within the large chamber-scanning electron microscope (LC-SEM) at Western Kentucky University’s NOVA Center. The size of the sample chamber, large samples such as dinosaur bones can be analyzed without any damage to the bone. With conventional SEM analyses, a small section of the bone must be removed and sputter-coated with a conductive material, causing damage to samples. This has prevented the analysis of critical information from rare specimens. As the only University in North America with the availability of this technology, the NOVA Center can provide unrivaled Nanometrology, characterization, and analytical services by using the LC-SEM. The LC-SEM can accommodate objects up to 1.5 m diameter and 650 lbs due to the size of the vacuum chamber. A small set of samples was provided by Northern Kentucky University and the Cincinnati Museum Center in order to prove the use of this technology in vertebrate paleontology research. Four projects could be put in the chamber simultaneously, saving time on sample preparation and evacuation of the sample chamber. Projects that were conducted include the analysis of growth rings in a sauropod dinosaur, microwear patterns and the potential for fungal growth on an Allosaurus tooth, documentation of the first mammal jaw from a site, and documentation of Sphenodont material from a site.