Replicating the stegamites

One of the most used techniques in the field of conservation is the creation of replicas. A replica is, according to the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy of Language, an “exact copy of something.” Replicas serve to obtain a duplicate, of the same size, of an object with the same characteristics as the original, to be able to use it later for various uses without the fear of its loss or deterioration and keeping the original safe.

In our case, during the exploration and study of Cueva de las Estegamitas, a vandalized stegamite was found, split in half and with the two halves found in different places in the cave, separated from the original location.

This stegamite was recovered for cleaning and subsequent study. However, before proceeding to the various geochemical and isotopic analysis and geochronological dating that are intended to be carried out on the various layers of the stegamite, the team considered fitting to make a high-quality cast for making replicas.

In order to do this, the stegamite was transferred to the IGME-CSIC laboratories in Madrid, where Eleuterio Baeza, one of the best Spanish experts in replicas of geological materials, has been working on it.

The fundamental objective has been to obtain a high-quality silicone cast, a process that requires many delicate and complex steps.

Once the cast is made, it is possible to make one or more resin replicas, faithfully reproducing the shape, texture, and colour of the original stegamite.

In this way, it will be possible to take to exhibitions, museums, research and educational centres as many replicated specimens as are needed for the spreading of this particular type of speleothem.

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