The Quaternary research group, led by Torbjörn Törnqvist,uses this facility to examine sediment cores and to process sediment samples for a variety of sedimentological, paleoenvironmental, and geochemical analyses. A 17 m3 walk-in refrigerator for core storage is located adjacent to the lab. The lab contains a fume hood and is fully equipped for chemical sample preparation for grain size and other sedimentological measurements, as well as sieving of sediments for microscopic analysis of plant remains and microfossils. This equipment includes an oven, a furnace, an analytical balance, and several microscopes. Field equipment includes an extensive set of hand-operated Edelman augers and gouges (including an OSL sampler), as well as a TOPCON GTS-4B total station. The lab houses a server which provides group members access to our database of >1000 shallow boreholes from various portions of the US Gulf Coast.
In a separate space, we also operate a dark room for chemical sample preparation for OSL dating. The OSL sample preparation lab was set up by Zhixiong Shen in 2009 and is illuminated by an array of 12 amber (590 nm) LEDs. This lab is equipped with standard facilities (fume hood, oven, sieves, settling tubes, pH meter,etc.) and supplies for conventional chemical pretreatment and density separation of OSL samples.
Kyle Straub and his research group study how sediment is transported through channels on deltas and deepwater fans. Research is also focused on relating surface processes to the stratigraphic surfaces to aid inversion of Stratigraphy for paleo-environmental conditions. These questions are addressed using carefully monitored reduced scale experiments in a range of flumes and experimental basins.
Data generated in these experiments can be used to benchmark numerical models and aid stratigraphic analysis of seismic data. Laboratory flumes are also used for a range of demonstrations in both undergraduate and graduate level classes.
Dr. Karen Johannesson and her research group are actively involved in studying the biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the environment. Their research combines field, analytical, and experimental approaches to develop geochemical models that can improve our understanding of the biogeochemical processes that control trace element cycles in the near-surface environment of the Earth. Research is particularly geared towards the biogeochemistry of rare earth elements (REE) and oxyanion-forming trace elements such as arsenic, selenium, chromium, and tungsten.
Ph.D. graduate student, Jade Haug, is determining thiotungstate stability constants using a sulfidic solution. The sulfidic solution is first made under the fume hood by bubbling water with nitrogen to make it anoxic, then with hydrogen sulfide, to make it sulfidic. Because the sulfide can oxidize if exposed to our atmosphere, the solution must be kept anoxic while running the experiments. The glove box has an anoxic atmosphere composed solely of nitrogen. When tungstate is added to the sulfide solution, a chemical reaction takes place forming a variety of thiotungstate species. Jade's research seeks to find the stability constants for the four thiotungstate species- WO3S, WO2S2, WOS3, and WS4 which will be used in conjunction with field data to create a biogeochemical model of W along groundwater flow paths.
In the Surface Processes Laboratory, Nicole Gasparini and her students explore the topography of the Earth in order to understand how the landscape has evolved and will change through time. The Surface Processes computing facilities include PCs and Macs. These are used for spatial analysis, mainly using ArcGIS, and for running numerical models which simulate landscape evolution. The lab also has surveying field equipment, including GPS and a laser range finder.
The scientists in this laboratory study wetlands and coastal systems to determine changes over recent geological time. In the opposite photo, research professor Alex Kolker is handling sediment samples taken from the delta of the Mississippi River during the June, 2008 high-water event. These samples are crucial in determining modeling scenarios for future coastal restoration.
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