Focus: Fossil Plants - Facilities

Collections Facility

The Paleobotany Collections are housed in a 7,130 sq. ft. space within the 182,000 sq. ft. Collections Resource Center (CRC) and are equipped with compactorized storage comprising a total of 15,700 drawer spaces (approximately 48,000 sq. ft. of storage), plus approximately 180 sq. ft. of oversize shelving and four slide cabinets capable of housing 192,000 slides. SEM stubs are housed separately in the Museum’s Scanning Electron Microscopy facility, while type figured and referred specimens are separated from the main Collection and are housed by publication.

Dry Laboratory

A facility fully equipped for fluorescence and reflected light microscopy as well as sample preparation and the detailed examination of macrofossils. The lab has been used to gather anatomical and morphological data from modern and fossil plant cuticles and for both qualitative and quantitative analyses of charcoals and coals.


  • Leica DM LB HC microscope set up for fluorescence and equipped with a Diagnostic Instruments digital camera system with Advanced Spot Camera software.
  • Leica DM 4000M microscope set up for reflected light microscopy and equipped with a Retiga 2000R peltier-cooled, greyscale digital camera and Leica Image Pro Plus 6.0 image analysis software.
  • Two Leica MZ8 Stereo Microscopes for sample preparation and detailed analyses.
  • Jenval SZX 9 transmitted light palynological microscope.

Paleobotany Wet Laboratory

A laboratory dedicated to high-volume hydrofluoric acid and strong oxidizing agent rock macerations.


  • HF compliant plumbing and extraction hood.
  • Sieving and washing facilities.
  • Centrifuge for palynological preparations.
  • Ultrasonic bath.
  • Slide warmers for palynological and mesofossil preparation.
  • An acid dilution tank.
  • Counter space for sample preparation.
  • Equipment for coal ball peel preparation.

Paleobotany Plant Growth Chamber Laboratory

Plant growth chambers with the capabilities to carry out both elevated and sub-ambient CO2 treatment experiments in the range of 2000 ppmV to 150 ppmV. Funded through a Comer Science and Education Foundation Grant #13 and The Field Museum.


  • Four Conviron E8 reach-in plant growth chambers, with controllable humidity, light intensity and temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels.

Paleobotany Visiting Scientist Facility

This facility provides a secure workspace for visiting scientists adjacent to the Paleobotany Collections. The room is networked and contains a camera stand and dissecting microscope for specimen study.

Geology and Field Museum facilities of possible interest

Geology houses a variety of cutting, grinding and polishing equipment suitable for coal and rock sample preparation. The department also has extensive facilities for sample cleaning and preparation, including x-ray analysis. The Museum’s Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) facility is shared between the scientific departments. The facility houses two SEMs. The LEO EVO-60 SEM is fitted with an Oxford Instruments INCA Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy system for nondestructive major and minor elemental analyses. This microscope has the capability to accommodate large specimens and is suitable for the examination of uncoated specimens in low-pressure mode. The Amray 1810 Scanning Electron Microscope is only suitable for small specimens that can be sputter coated. The facility also has a Balzers 030 Critical Point Dryer and a Denton Vacuum Desk II Sputter Coater for sample preparation.