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Synchrotron imaging as a tool for the survey of amber inclusions

Abstract : Organisms entombed in amber for millions of years are usually preserved with unmatched fidelity, i.e. showing minute details and without compression artefacts. But often the amber matrix is not perfectly clear, or the view of the fossil is obscured by bubbles, cracks, debris, or other inclusions, without possibility of a further polishing of the amber surface. Three-dimensional digital restoration of amber inclusions using microtomography is increasingly used to overcome these limitations. Most studies have focused on one or few particular fossils visualized in more or less translucent amber prior to X-ray analyses, to help with the systematic description and phylogenetic analyses. But amber deposits usually contain several thousands of pieces, for which the screening of the fossil content can last for years. In some deposits also, a significant portion of amber is fully opaque, and inclusions are invisible with conventional microscopes, leading to evident bias in paleoecological studies. Propagation phase-contrast X-ray synchrotron imaging techniques have been developed at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF; Grenoble, France), that are powerful tools to access inclusions regardless of the amber opacity. Among these, an optimized microradiographic protocol allows a rapid survey of large amounts of amber pieces. The technique can be used for the overview of any deposit with opaque or transparent pieces of amber, followed by 3D microtomographic reconstructions applied to the most valuable fossils. The ESRF uniquely maintains an open-access paleontological database ( with all tomographic data (original stacks of slices and processed data) of each specimen published.
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Contributor : Isabelle Dubigeon Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 2:47:26 PM
Last modification on : Friday, November 5, 2021 - 4:52:05 PM


  • HAL Id : insu-00805262, version 1



Vincent Perrichot, Paul Tafforeau, Carmen Soriano. Synchrotron imaging as a tool for the survey of amber inclusions. Digital Fossil International Conference, Sep 2012, Berlin, Germany. ⟨insu-00805262⟩



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