Using light to describe the ancient world

NIR 2011

The 15th International Conference on Near Infrared Spectroscopy is being held in Cape Town this week. Yesterday I presented work from a forthcoming publication, where we used NIR to study burial history. Two other talks describing NIR of minerals were also presented, demonstrating just how powerful this spectroscopy could be for the paleosciences. Part of the reason that NIR has not attracted a lot of attention by the paleoscience community is that bands in the NIR region tend to come from light elements, which are not large components of bone mineral. There are plenty of light elements in secondary minerals though, which I think is where the focus should be. So, instead of studying bone mineral with NIR, we instead study burial history of bone from mineral composition. Given time, I think we will see some interesting fossil applications from NIR spectroscopy

E.T. Stathopoulou, V. Psycharis, G.D. Chryssikos, V. Gionis and G. Theodorou, “Bone diagenesis: new data from infrared spectroscopy and x-ray diffraction”, Palaeogeogr. Palaeocl. 266, 168 (2008). doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2008.03.022

Thomas, DB, McGoverin, CM, Chinsamy A. and Manley, M. 2011.Near infrared analysis of fossil bone from the Western Cape of South Africa. Journal of Near Infrared Spectroscopy. In press.

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