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A method of mounting multiple otoliths for beam-based microchemical analyses


Beam-based analytical methods are widely used to measure the concentrations of elements and isotopes in otoliths. These methods usually require that otoliths be individually mounted and prepared to properly expose the desired growth region to the analytical beam. Most analytical instruments, such as LA-ICPMS and ion and electron microprobes, have sample holders that will accept only one to six slides or mounts at a time. We describe a method of mounting otoliths that allows for easy transfer of many otoliths to a single mount after they have been prepared. Such an approach increases the number of otoliths that can be analyzed in a single session by reducing the need open the sample chamber to exchange slides—a particularly time consuming step on instruments that operate under vacuum. For ion and electron microprobes, the method also greatly reduces the number of slides that must be coated with an electrical conductor prior to analysis. In this method, a narrow strip of cover glass is first glued at one end to a standard microscope slide. The otolith is then mounted in thermoplastic resin on the opposite, free end of the strip. The otolith can then be ground and flipped, if needed, by reheating the mounting medium. After otolith preparation is complete, the cover glass is cut with a scribe to free the otolith and up to 20 small otoliths can be arranged on a single petrographic slide.

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