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Phase Contrast X-Ray Synchrotron Imaging: Opening Access to Fossil Inclusions in Opaque Amber

  • Malvina Lak (a1) (a2), Didier Néraudeau (a2), André Nel (a3), Peter Cloetens (a1), Vincent Perrichot (a4) and Paul Tafforeau (a1) (a5)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2008

A significant portion of Mesozoic amber is fully opaque. Biological inclusions in such amber are invisible even after polishing, leading to potential bias in paleoecological and phylogenetic studies. Until now, studies using conventional X-ray microtomography focused on translucent or semi-opaque amber. In these cases, organisms of interest were visualized prior to X-ray analyses. It was recently demonstrated that propagation phase contrast X-ray synchrotron imaging techniques are powerful tools to access invisible inclusions in fully opaque amber. Here we describe an optimized synchrotron microradiographic protocol that allowed us to investigate efficiently and rapidly large amounts of opaque amber pieces from Charentes (southwestern France). Amber pieces were imaged with microradiography after immersion in water, which optimizes the visibility of inclusions. Determination is not accurate enough to allow precise phylogenetic studies, but provides preliminary data on biodiversity and ecotypes distribution; phase contrast microtomography remains necessary for precise determination. Because the organisms are generally much smaller than the amber pieces, we optimized local microtomography by using a continuous acquisition mode (sample moving during projection integration). As tomographic investigation of all inclusions is not practical, we suggest the use of a synchrotron for a microradiographic survey of opaque amber, coupled with microtomographic investigations of the most valuable organisms.

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Microscopy and Microanalysis
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