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Techniques for CollectorsRepair of gypsum

7th Oct 2019 21:31 BSTHiro Inukai

I received a very nice specimen of gypsum that was unfortunately damaged in transit due to rough handling.  One small crystal has detached from the matrix, but I have been able to determine its correct original position.  As I am aware of the solubility in water, I am exploring suitable adhesives for repair.  Such an adhesive should be:  (1) clear-drying (2) non-damaging to the crystals (3) reversible/removable without solvents that attack the mineral or matrix, and (4) optionally/ideally minimally or not fluorescent in UV.

The only candidate adhesive I have in mind at this time is cyanoacrylate (super glue), but I am wondering if this actually meets the 3 major criteria.  I am willing to accept a fluorescent adhesive as the specimen itself fluoresces quite a bit, and the contact area is small.  But I would prefer to leave it damaged (as-is) if any repair attempt would cause further damage or be impossible to remove.  White glue is out of the question since removal would require soaking the specimen in water.  Super glue can be removed with acetone, which I presume is not a solvent for gypsum.  Am I on the right track?

7th Oct 2019 21:42 BSTThomas Lühr Expert

Hello Hiro

A cyanacrylate based glue would also my first choice. I think you will be fine with super glue. 


9th Oct 2019 15:07 BSTHiro Inukai

Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the confirmation--I executed the repair with a tiny drop of super glue and the result appears quite satisfactory for the time being.  I did not observe any fogging or dissolution of the crystals.

9th Oct 2019 15:26 BSTThomas Lühr Expert

Thanks for the feedback, Hiro :)

10th Oct 2019 03:01 BSTDoug Daniels

Just a few things to add, for others that may view this thread.  First, it depends on how "small" the detached crystal was. Yes, superglue may be the best, and can be removed with acetone; the acetone will not dissolve the gypsum.  Likely fluorescent, at least a bit.  The only luck I've ever had with superglue is binding my fingertips together.....  As far as "white glue" (e.g. Elmer's, etc.), if the attached crystal is small, and had to be removed,soaking it in water would not damage the gypsum - it's not THAT soluble (like halite, for example).  The only time I've heard of water damaging a gypsum specimen was back in college, when some wise collectors put a dirty sample in a sink, turned the water on, and left it overnight.  Next morning, there was nothing there.
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