Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis campus only



First Advisor

Joseph B. Lambert


Central to the plotline of Jurassic Park, to the existence of the treasured Amber Room, which was stolen by the Nazis during World War II, and to the latest fad in miracle jewelry for babies, amber is an organic gemstone that was formed from the complete fossilization of resin exuded from particular trees millions of years ago. Scientific analysis of the material began during the Renaissance; however the analysis was not effective until 1986 when Beck used infrared spectroscopy for analysis of Baltic amber. Today pyrolysis gas chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy allow for the best characterization of amber samples. Both of these methods have developed parallel classifications for amber of which the primary difference in the categories is the paleobotanical origins of the samples. NMR Group A and Group C originated from gymnosperms, conifers, whereas Group B and Group D came from angiosperms (flowering plants), which have been the focus of only a few studies. The in-depth characterization of angiosperm resins from the islands of Indonesia, the 13th century Java Sea Wreck, South and Central America, and the Caribbean now has been completed, and all resins from these locations are classified as either Group B or D by proton NMR analysis. The possible paleobotanical and geographical origins and trade implications are highlighted.