Long term stability of palaeontological acetate peels

Staff: C. J. Buttler, A. J. Valentine & J. Carter

Acetate peels are a useful tool in palaeontological research; they can be used to examine morphological features of calcareous invertebrate fossils. They are made by cutting and polishing a flat surface of a specimen, etching it with acid, then flooding the surface with acetone and laying on a sheet of cellulose acetate. When dry the acetate is removed and an impression of the surface remains. It is known that acetate will deteriorate with time and this project plans to examine aspects of this. The aim is to study the differences in measurements of features made from the peel and from the original etched specimen to examine dimensional changes. Different thicknesses of acetate will be examined and the peels will be artificially aged to examine alterations in stability. The acetate will also be analysed using FTIR (Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy) to examine degradation with time.