Collecting Samples – Powdered Enamel

Here’s something that not too many ‘traditional’ chemists have to do, but geochemists have to do all the time. You can’t very easily just stick a rock into a mass spectrometer and take a geochemical measurement. Usually, the rock or mineral (enamel, in this case) has to be powdered first.

For my own research, I’m usually interested in isotopes of carbon and of oxygen, which provide information about plant life (diets of animals, habitats) and climate (temperature, humidity, precipitation), respectively.

In this post, I’ll mostly be using tweets to illustrate the collection of powdered tooth mineral. These powders will have to go through a chemical pretreatment which I will describing in a future note. These particular samples later went through a second chemical procedure that (thankfully) we don’t need for this study.

Fish scales and teeth both have ‘enamel.’ The enamel isn’t exactly the same, but it is still a calcium phosphate and the procedures are the same whether it’s a tooth or a scale. For these particular samples, grinding with a mortar and pestle was all we needed to get a sample. Sometimes, we need a dental drill! I’ll save that for a later post too!

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: