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 evaluation1

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Description

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 visualised. Further work is needed to optimise visualization of fine-scale cellular detail. Labelling and segmentation to visualise 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.
Date made available1 Jan 2017
PublisherOpen Science Framework

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