How Mobile are Phytoliths in the Laboratory? An Examination of Cross-Contamination during the Extraction Process

Session: 
Poster Session
Date and Time: 
Friday, 12 May, 2017 - 13:00
Abstract Key Words: 
Ethics and Research Methods, Archaeobotany
Author(s): 
Arbogast
, Drew - The Ohio State University
Arnold
, Julia - The Ohio State University
Buffington
, Abigail - The Ohio State
Weiland
, Andrew - The Ohio State University

Phytoliths, amorphous opal silica bodies that form in plant tissues, are assumed to be stable components of a soil matrix, impacted little by normal physical forces. However, there is a small chance of phytoliths moving in a laboratory setting, especially after they have been isolated from other materials such as clay, organics and carbonates and when multiple samples are being processed. We designed a study to test the potential of cross-contamination in phytolith research. We examined the variable of distance as it relates to contamination on slides in different locations of the phytolith laboratory. The results of our study inform on how we can improve on phytolith processing protocols to reduce the potential effect of cross-contamination between samples.