LANL scientists study artifacts linked to Coronado Expedition

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LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – Los Alamos National Laboratory is now using its high-tech expertise to help New Mexico understand some deep parts of our past.

The Coronado Historic Site in Bernalillo received a community technical assistance grant from Los Alamos National Lab to study two different New Mexico state artifacts.

"So the two artifacts that we investigated were a copper pendant that had two settings, one on the front and back. They were composed of a glass mineral and the second was a quarrel which was also copper which provides evidence of the presence of Coronado and his expedition at the location that they were discovered," said Steven Young, materials scientist.

The team of LANL scientists used a variety of non-destructive techniques that don’t damage the sample in any way.

"X-ray tomography allows us to take a full 3D image of the sample where we can see inside of it and see the lead that was contained within it or any voyage or things like that that might be contained by the object," said Brian M. Patterson, materials scientist.

They also used a technique called X-ray fluorescence, where they can identify what elements the material is composed of and get an idea of what different mix of metals is present.

"The artifacts were provided to us because they have a very complicated structure to them, made up of alloys and minerals, where we can use our full breadth of techniques to analyze them and get a much clearer picture."