FOSSIL Community, we received the following request from a researcher at the University of Memphis:
“I am studying the origin of petrified wood in the lower Mississippi River valley. I need to compare the mineralogy of my samples to the mineralogy of samples from other regions to determine if my samples have a unique or common mineral composition. I seek samples of petrified wood, identified to location and, if possible to age/formation, for X-ray diffraction analysis. This requires a 2 to 3 gram sample, about the size of the tip of a little finger. The analysis is destructive as the sample needs to be ground to a fine powder. The only compensation I can offer is an acknowledgement in any publication that may emerge.”
If you are interested in helping contribute to this study, please contact Dr. David N. Lumsden at [email protected].
X-ray diffraction is a cool technology that has been around. The way it works is that a beam of x-rays will hit a material and the waves will scatter. We can measure the angles at which these rays depart which corresponds to specific mineral structures and analyze them in computer software. It’s basically an accurate way to do mineral ID when you might have a mixed composition of minerals or are working with small or indistinguishable samples. I think we might learn a lot from a study like this – looking at the mineralogy of petrified wood on a broad geographic and temporal scale.