Cleaned Diatom Samples

(last update 1/22/12)
I have collected a number of very high quality samples of diatomite and freshly collected diatom samples from all over the world. I have then spent considerable time and effort in cleaning these samples. Some of the many different samples I have available are shown below.
I offer small 1.5 mL plastic snap-cap vials of these cleaned materials suspended in distilled water. To make up a slide for observation (a strew), mix the tube well and use a medicine dropper to place one or two drops of the suspension onto a microscope slide. If the diatoms are too close together, just add a little distilled water to spread them out. Then just place the slide on the microscope stage and enjoy! If you want to try your hand at making permanent diatom slides, allow the water to completely evaporate, then add your favorite high refractive index mounting medium (like Zrax) and a cover slip, then warm it on a hotplate until the solvent has evaporated. That's it. There is enough material in each vial of diatoms to make many dozens of slides. Jim Solliday of the Microscopical Society of Southern California (MSSC) has written a great article on making diatom microscope slides, even arranged ones. A pdf version is here.

For the majority of samples, the cost is $12 per sample vial including shipping within the USA. For Oamaru samples (if available), the cost is $20 per sample vial. Oamaru diatomite is extremely challenging to clean.  You can contact me (Bill Dailey) directly if you are interested.

Note: I am always interested in trading cleaned samples for interesting diatomite samples or collected (but not yet cleaned) diatom samples. Contact me to discuss what you have access to.

Fossil Marine Forms from Dunkirk, Maryland

I have been lucky enough to obtain some of the last remaining super high quality diatomite from Dunkirk, Maryland.  This material is from a small outcropping that was deposited about 20 million years ago by a marine source.  The material was cleaned using a series of treatments involving concentrated hydrochloric acid (Muriatic acid available in hardware stores), concentrated sulfuric acid (used as a drain opener) and potassium nitrate (stump remover), followed by mild base, and finally sieving using a fine mesh.  This produces some of the best quality fossil marine diatom material in the world today. 
dunkirk             dunkirk
dunkirk df             dunkirk df

Some of the forms in this Dunkirk sample are shown in this type slide prepared for me by Klaus Kemp.

And here is another type slide that Klaus prepared for me.
dunkirk diatom
(Click on image for a larger one)

Here is an old type slide from "Nottingham, Maryland" along with a name index key. This material is very similar to that found at Dunkirk.

nottingham type slide          nottingham index
(click on the image for a much larger one)                     (click on the image for a much larger one)

Fossil Marine Forms from Newport Beach, California

Below are images of strews prepared from fossil marine diatomite collected in the Back Bay region of Newport Beach, California. There are a wide variety of unusual forms in this material.


Below is an image of an arranged slide made from this Newport Beach, CA material. Click on the image for a much bigger image.

Newport Beach, CA type slide

Below is an image of a type slide made from a sample collected from a part of Newport Beach known as "White Cliffs". Klaus Kemp made the slide.
White Cliffs
          Type slide

Fossil Freshwater Forms from Terrebonne, Oregon

Terrebonne, Oregon has a large amount of fossil freshwater diatomite, deposited several thousand years ago.  The material is in a remarkable state of preservation.


Fossil Freshwater Forms from Toome Bridge, Northern Ireland

Toome Bridge, Northern Ireland still mines this diatomite which is in a wonderful state of preservation. The material is equal to that of Terrebonne in quality, but it contains a number of very different forms, some of which are quite small, but very interesting.


Below is an image of an arranged slide made from selected forms from Toome Bridge. The slide was custom prepared by Klaus Kemp and was taken under darkfield conditions.

Fossil Freshwater Forms from Chalk Pond, Maine

Many of the freshwater ponds along the coast of Maine have bogs which are made up of diatomite. Diatomite from Chalk Pond was once mined commercially. However there is still material available. The cleaned material has a number of HUGE pinnularia forms and is similar to the "Cherryfield, Maine" material of the old diatomists.

chalk pond

Here's a type slide of Chalk Pond made for me by Klaus Kemp.

chalk pond
            type slide

Recent Freshwater Forms from Crum Creek, Radnor, Pennsylvania

My local freshwater trout stream, Crum Creek, found in the southeastern part of Pennsylvania, yields a beautiful array of forms. A type slide is shown below.

crum creek type

Fossil Marine Forms from Oamaru, New Zealand

Even more recently I have gained access to diatomite from MiddleEarth, a.k.a. New Zealand. Our family took a trip to New Zealand in October 2004, and I was able to collect some diatomite.  Oamaru, New Zealand has the most outstanding fossil (eocene) marine diatomite. The forms found in this material are unbelievable. Here is a picture of some of the forms collected onto a slide. Oamaru diatomite is some of the most challenging diatomite to clean. Starting with 100 grams of material leads to less than 1 gram of cleaned material, most of which are sponge spicules and radiolaria. However the diatoms are truly exotic. Understandably, I've had a lot of demand for the various Oamaru samples. Because of the labor involved in cleaning these materials, I've had to increase my price to make it worthwhile for me to do. So, if available, I now charge $20 per sample for the various Oamaru samples. Be sure to check out our trip to Oamaru to collect diatomite samples.  A number of classic collection locations such as Allan's Farm, Bains, Cormacks, Forresters, Jackson's Paddock,Papakaio, Williams Bluff are shown, and there's a Google map key that will allow you to see these sites in remarkable detail from satellite.

Oamaru, New Zealand Forms

oamaru slide

image imagedf

Below are examples of dried strew slides of the Oamaru material. Notice all the different things in there!

Oamaru             Oamaru
Oamaru             Oamaru

I have access to other fossil diatom material and may offer some other samples in the future.