MicroCT of Seashells

It is summer and is time to soak up some sun and head to the beach! As you walk along the beach you probably have collected seashells as a kid or still do.  Those fond memories gave us the great idea to scan seashells.

Combing the beach for seashells may turn up a variety of shapes, sizes and colors.  As we sorted through the ones available to us, we could not just pick one so we ended up scanning three   different varieties. They include a Nassa, Umbonium, and Auger seashells (See Figures 1, 2, and  3, respectively).

Figure 1. Actual Nassa seashell (left)

and scanned Nassa seashell (right)










Figure 2. Actual Umbonium seashell (left)

and scanned Umbonium seashell (right)


Figure 3. Actual Auger seashell (left

and scanned Auger seashell (right)


Using our Skyscan 1172 we were able to scan each of these seashells to capture their unique details and even provide stunning internal views (See Figures 4, 5, and 6, respectively). These internal structures of the shells are formed from the exoskeletons of mollusks, such as snails or  oysters. They are mainly made up of calcium carbonate and some protein. As the mollusk grows  the added calcium carbonate and protein are added to the fringes of the shells edge. Over time,  these exquisite structure are formed.

Figure 4. Nassa seashell internal view



Figure 5. Umbonium seashell internal view


Figure 6. Auger seashell internal view (left)

and translucent image (right)








SkyScan 1172 High Resolution Micro-CT





Pixel Size

Nassa – 13.37µm

Umbonium and Auger – 10.43µm

Rotation Step

Nassa – 0.3

Umbonium and Auger – 0.4

Scan Time

Nassa – 01:39:09

Umbonium and Auger – 00:46:28


NRecon, DataViewer, CTvox


Micro Photonics Imaging Laboratory, Allentown, PA

Courtesy of

Tim Sledz and Brandon Walters, Micro Photonics







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