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Palaeontology Preparation Laboratory Details

Academic Staff Member

Dr N. Butterfield


North Wing – Room N340
Tel: 33379;


The laboratory is primarily equipped for acid preparation of microfossils, including acetic, hydrofluoric and nitric acids. Acetic acid is used for digestion of carbonates (primarily Cambrian phosphatic microfossils), while hydrofluoric acid is employed mostly for palynological extraction and etching of siliceous material. In association with this latter technique are a variety of ancillary facilities that utilise nitric acid and other corrosive chemicals.

The acetic acid technique is relatively benign, but expert tuition in the use of hydrofluoric acid and other procedures is essential and should be recorded in the Personal Training Record. Great care must also be taken to avoid contamination of sieves and other equipment.

Special Precautions

The utmost care must be taken when using Hydrofluoric Acid: all work must be conducted in fume cupboards. See Safety Procedure and Appendix 3 of the Protocols.


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