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Reference details

Hook, B., Halfar, J., Gedalof, Z., Bollmann, J. 2013. Controlled breaking of mummified wood for use in paleoenvironmental analysis. Tree-Ring Research, 69(2), 87-92, doi:10.3959/1536-1098-69.2.87.

Language(s) of main text: English
Language(s) of abstract: French

The discovery of exceptionally well-preserved Paleogene wood fossils (ca. 55–53 Ma) within Canadian Arctic diamond-bearing kimberlites prompted a paleoclimatic study of the Paleocene-Eocene Transition. The samples are not petrified, but have been “mummified” by their inclusion in pyroclastic debris and still contain primordial wood material. However, preferential cellulose loss has rendered the wood very fragile, precluding the use of standard dendrochronological methods of surface preparation. Similar to archaeological charcoal, breaking the mummified wood allows superior visualization of tree-ring boundaries and wood anatomy, but often produces irregular surfaces making microscopic examination difficult. Therefore, a simple aluminum clamp was constructed to break radial wood transects in a controlled manner for the purpose of collecting dendrochronological and wood-anatomical data for paleoclimatic reconstructions. Because it does not require the use of chemical treatments or stabilizing resins, the wood remains chemically unaltered, allowing chemical and isotopic analyses to be undertaken. Future studies of fragile woods may benefit from this method of controlled breaking if sanding is ineffective.

Keywords: alpha-cellulose, automated microscopic scanning, fragile wood, mummified wood, non-permineralized fossil wood, Paleocene/Eocene transition, paleoclimatology, surface preparation, wood anatomy, , , Canada, Diavik Diamond Mine, Ekati Diamond Mine, Lac de Gras, Northwest Territories, Rio Tinto