Origer's Obsidian Lab


Twenty years after cofounding and directing the obsidian laboratory at Sonoma State University, Tom established Origer's Obsidian Laboratories in 2002. OOL processes several thousand specimens each year from a variety of archaeological contexts, primarily in western North America.



Standard obsidian hydration analyses result in obtaining hydration band measurements.
Calendar dates can be provided for those sources where chronometric control exists. In order to calculate dates, we will need obsidian source information and the location of the site where the specimens were obtained.

Induced hydration studies allow for comparison of the amount of hydration that develops on single source specimens as well as comparison of the amount of hydration developed on several obsidian sources processed simultaneously.

Induced hydration studies are especially valuable in that they reveal variation or homogeneity in hydration band development within and between obsidian sources.
Comparison constants from induced studies are particularly useful in establishing hydration rates for an obsidian source with no known hydration rate when it is compared to the hydration rate of a control source - for example, Napa Glass Mountain which has a well established rate.



Standard Hydration
A standard thin section preparation and hydration band measurement with letter report

# of Specimens

Price per thin section

01 through 10


11 through 24


25 through 99


100 and more


Rapid Turnaround*
Standard hydration for batches of less than 10 thin sections with an email report within 48 business hours of receipt of specimens*

# of Specimens

Price per thin section

01 through 10


Induced Hydration
Induced hydration on submitted specimens plus induced hydration of control specimens with a letter report that describes the procedures followed as well a table displaying the hydration band measurements.

# of Specimens

Price per thin section

Price varies by scope of project

*Please contact OOL prior to sending specimens for confirmation of schedule

**Please Carefully Read the Following Guidelines Before Sending Samples:

- Be sure to securely package specimens for shipment. If in doubt, use more padding so that the specimens are not crushed in transit.

- Each specimen should be shipped in its own ziplock bag or other container.

- If you desire that a specific portion of the specimen be analyzed, we suggest that your photograph the item, scan it, or photocopy it, and mark with an arrow the location you want analyzed. Remember, a single thin section can provide hydration band measurements for two or more facets (e.g., dorsal, ventral, and truncated surfaces).  

Please provide a specimen inventory:  a hard copy with the specimens and a digital copy via email.

- Each specimen should be clearly labeled with a unique identifier.

- Include a letter of transmittal with all necessary contact information.

Size: Obsidian Hydration can be done on any size piece, however small specimens may be completely consumed in the process and if you plan to XRF source items, it is best to do so before hydration analysis. (Especially on small items!)

Condition: It may be impossible or difficult to get readings off of specimens that have been weathered, sand blasted, or burned. Call if you have specimens in this situation to discuss options.

Source: Specimens can be read for hydration band measurements, but these numbers mean nothing in terms of dating the specimen without source data and location of the site! Please provide source and location data or call to inquire about our "visual sourcing" costs and capability for your project area.