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Micro-shells from sand samples

Danny Tierney in Yorkshire has developed techniques for extracting microscopic shells from sand samples and mounting them on microscope slides.

He sprinkles the sand onto a black ceramic tile then, under a stereoscopic microscope, he carefully picks out the shells using a 'OOO' sable brush and places them onto another tile, arranged according to type and size.

To prepare the microscope slide he uses 'Locktite Glass Bond' to stick a ring to the microscope slide and to stick the shells to the glass. After arranging the shells on a layer of glass bond within the ring, the top is sealed with a cover glass. Locktite Glass Bond is set by exposure to ultra-violet light so, to complete the process, the slide is exposed to ultra-violet light, either from a quartz halogen bulb or from sunlight.

I sent Danny a small sample of shell sand that I had collected from Faraid Head, Scotland. I had noticed a few of the larger shells in the samples (one can be seen just below the centre of the scan below) but most of the sand appeared to be made up of shell fragments.

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Shell sand from Faraid Head

A few days later he sent me a slide that he had made from the sample and I was amazed at the number and types of shells he had been able to find. The scan below does not do it justice but it does gives an indication of the finished result. The black circular area of the slide measures 15 mm in diameter and it contains 120 shells.

Microscope slide by Dany Tierney
Shells extracted from the sample

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