Abstract Detail



Paleobotany

Klymiuk, Ashley [1].

Catastrophic autocatalysis of cellulose acetate: paths forward for paleobotany.

The cellulose acetate peel technique (Joy et al. 1956) revolutionized study of fossil plants preserved at a cellular level of detail, by allowing rapid preparation of serial sections of plant organs and tissues permineralized by carbonate and silicate cements.  Preparations of cellulose acetate (i.e., containing embedded plant fossils) have been maintained in ambient conditions (room temperatures and RH >30%) for the past six decades;  these plastics are thus reaching the end of their lifespan and beginning to suffer catastrophic autocatalysis.  Acetic acid degradation (AKA "vinegar syndrome") results in shrinkage, cracking, friability, and ultimately complete destruction of cellulose acetate, with destabilization initiating (and thereafter rapidly progressing) within 50-70 yrs.  Paleobotanical collections housing cellulose acetate preparations are at risk of losing these materials without rapid adoption of conservation techniques.  Freezing (-9°C to -20ºC) is advocated, as buffering techniques offer little expansion of possible lifespan.  As the cellulose acetate peel technique continues to be frequently utilized for study of permineralized plants, the paleobotanical community should be aware of shortfalls of this material, and adopt best practices moving forward.  To this end, this poster also presents results of experimentation with several other plastics posessing longer theoretical lifespans and greater stability under ambient storage conditions.


1 - Field Museum, Gantz Family Collections Center, 400 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL, 60605, United States

Keywords:
none specified

Presentation Type: Poster This poster will be presented at 5:30 pm. The Poster Session runs from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm. Posters with odd poster numbers are presented at 5:30 pm, and posters with even poster numbers are presented at 6:15 pm.
Number: PPB005
Abstract ID:914
Candidate for Awards:None


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