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Keywords:

  • XRF imaging;
  • XAFS;
  • SEM;
  • fossil bones;
  • apatite

Earlymost Villafranchian fossil bones of an artiodactyl and a perissodactyl from the Milia excavation site in Grevena, Greece, were studied in order to evaluate diagenetic effects. Optical microscopy revealed the different bone types (fibro-lamellar and Haversian, respectively) of the two fragments and their good preservation state. The spatial distribution of bone apatite and soil-originating elements was studied using micro-X-ray fluorescence (µ-XRF) mapping and scanning electron microscopy. The approximate value of the Ca/P ratio was 2.2, as determined from scanning electron microscopy measurements. Bacterial boring was detected close to the periosteal region and Fe bearing oxides were found to fill bone cavities, e.g. Haversian canals and osteocyte lacunae. In the perissodactyl bone considerable amounts of Mn were detected close to cracks (the Mn/Fe weight ratio takes values up to 3.5). Goethite and pyrite were detected in both samples by means of metallographic microscopy. The local Ca/P ratio determined with µ-XRF varied significantly in metal-poor spots indicating spatial inhomogeneities in the ionic substitutions. XRF line scans that span the bone cross sections revealed that Fe and Mn contaminate the bones from both the periosteum and medullar cavity and aggregate around local maxima. The formation of goethite, irrespective of the local Fe concentration, was verified by the Fe K-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectra. Finally, Sr K-edge extended XAFS (EXAFS) revealed that Sr substitutes for Ca in bone apatite without obvious preference to the Ca1 or Ca2 unit-cell site occupation.