brachiopods on limestone rock from ordovician

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    Pdon Pinkham

    what would be the best way to prepare this

    from lewis county kentucky




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    Eleanor Gardner

    Hi, @pdon-pinkham – Let’s get @rnarducci and @rleder to weigh in on this question.  Do either of you have recommendations for prepping these fossils in limestone matrix?  What concentration of acetic acid would you suggest?

    Rachel Narducci

    Hi, @pdon-pinkham,

    I think preparation for this specimen first comes down to; what do you want the outcome to be? Are you hoping to remove all of the matrix around each individual specimen? If this was for my personal collection, I would probably keep the entire block intact and just scrub it down with a toothbrush and some water. Maybe chip away some of the limestone around each individual specimen to reveal more of the face using a carbide tool or air scribe (I’m not sure how hard this matrix is). If you have no time constraints, I know people who just place these blocks in their yards and allow the rain to do the work. I have never used acetic acid in fossil prep, but when we use formic acid, it is a 7% concentration mixed with water. I’m not sure if this would be best to use on your specimen though because there are so many individuals in the one block. Also, these acids are considered hazardous waste, so they will need to be disposed of properly, and that will vary depending on your location.

    Jack Kallmeyer

    @pdon-pinkham, @egardner, @rnarducci, @rleder  Noooo, do not use acid of any kind!  The matrix and the fossils are are the same – calcium carbonate  – so any removal of matrix will also dissolve the fossil surfaces. Typically with Brachs that are bonded into limestone matrix, the weakest plane between them is actually within the brach shell so mechanical removal will split the upper surface of the brach away from the rest of the brach.  If you like this specimen I would suggest doing nothing.  An experienced person properly using an airabrasive unit could clear out material but it would take a lot of time and money to do that.  If these were rare echinoderms or trilobites it might be worth it.  Keep collecting.  You may just find these same brachs weathered out and free of all matrix at another location.

    Having said all of that, you can test the brachs with vinegar (acetic acid) to verify they are indeed carbonate.  Some Kentucky brachs could be silicified. If they are not carbonate then soak them in  a container of household vinegar for as long as it takes to remove all matrix.  Muriatic acid works quicker but is more dangerous to handle. Before disposal of acids you will need to neutralize them.  And guess what!  You can do that by soaking more limestone in it until all chemical activity stops (no more bubbles).



    Well Jack You are absolutely right. Do not use acid of any kind. Rachels suggestion of letting the weather do the job is what I would do.



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