Paper No. 162-27
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM
A NOVEL EXPERIMENTAL INSTRUMENT FOR THE STUDY OF TISSUE DECAY AND EXCEPTIONAL PRESERVATION
The preservation of soft tissue in the fossil record is quite rare and still poorly understood. In recent years, taphonmic studies have involved monitoring the geological and biological process of decay in order to better understand exceptional preservation, as fossilization is highly dependent on the events that occur to an organism immediately following death. Recent taphonomic decay studies have used vessels such as petri dishes or closed jars to house their decay systems. This technique introduces a contamination error, as opening the container is necessary for sampling. Due to the need for termination upon sampling, multiple repeats are required, increasing cost and time. A novel vessel was constructed for multiparameter and continuous measurement of the chemical and biological processes within a closed decay experiment. Multiple measurements of the atmospheric, aqueous, and sedimentary environments are possible at any point throughout the experiment. Through the use of pH meters, CO2 sensors, and an on-line IR cell, changes is aqueous pH and atmospheric CO2, H2S, CH4, and NH3 can be continuously monitored. Sedimentary samples can be extracted through a syringe-based coring system, and subsequently analyzed using SEM-EDX. Our vessel allows for continuous monitoring and reporting of any trends in pH, CO2, H2S, CH4, and NH3 as experienced by the decaying organism, while also allowing for sediment extraction and analysis with only minor disruption to the closed experimental system.