Research Facilities

Chemistry Labs

Environmental Biochemistry Lab

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.

Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory

Dr. Brent Goehring leads a group of researchers  applying cutting edge cosmogenic nuclide and radiocarbon techniques to a broad spectrum of questions. Our interests span the Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene with an emphasis on the glacial environment and information we can learn from it about climate, tectonics, and geomorphic processes. We have a state of the art laboratory for the preparation of samples for isotope ratio analysis, including two fume hoods (one HF rated), laminar flow bench, physical rock preparation equipment, and a fully automated system for the extraction of carbon from minerals and organic materials.

High Temperature and Pressure (HiTaP) Lab

Dr Colin Jackson is building the HiTaP Lab, which features three major facilities for material synthesis under elevated temperature and pressure:

Piston cylinder facility:  An end-loaded piston cylinder press is scheduled for delivery in 2019. This press is high versatile, enabling the synthesis of large volumes of material up to 2000 °C and 3 GPa. We will use this facility to study magma genesis within Earth’s upper mantle, high-pressure metamorphic reactions related to subduction zones, and core formation within planetesimals, among other topics.

Gas-mixing furnace facility: Two gas-mixing furnaces are scheduled for delivery in 2019. Each furnace can achieve 1700 °C with a precisely controlled atmosphere composition.  Atmosphere compositions can be varied to impose redox potentials or partial pressures of gases for solubility studies.

Diamond anvil cell loading facility: A facility to load diamond anvil cells is in development. This will ultimately include binocular microscopes, a laser cutter, diamond cells, and the accoutrement needed to contain samples in diamond cells under extremely high pressure. Initial research directions include core formation within larger terrestrial bodies, deep mantle melting, and phase equilibria of slabs within the lower mantle.  

Sedimentology Labs

Sediment Dynamics Laboratory

Dr. 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.

Sedimentary Processes Lab

The Quaternary research group led by Dr Tor Törnqvist and adjunct Dr Alex Kolker use 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 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.

Computer Laboratories and Software

The department’s computer lab is primarily used by graduate students for research purposes, but is versatile and can also be used for small computer-based courses, both at the undergrad and grad level. It is an important resource for GIS teaching, subsurface interpretation, particularly 3D structural geology and 3D stratigraphy.  The lab features 10 quad core PC workstations (9 are dual monitor) plus a number of other computers. We have 2 large-format color printers, general purpose printers, and a variety of scanners and digitizers, including a large-format digitizing table.  The room is equipped with a permanently mounted computer projection system and a GeoWall is available for 3d visualization. A variety of widely used software packages are available, including (but not limited to) Mathwork’s Matlab, ESRI’s ArcGIS, Generic Mapping Tools, Exelis’s ENVI, Golden Software’s Surfer, IHS’s Kingdom suite, Midland Valley’s 2D and 3D Move, and Geochemist’s Workbench. Additional commercial software is available on dedicated field and lab workstations, and through partnership with Tulane’s Center for Computational Science.

Survey and Geophysical Equipment

The Surface Processes Group led by Dr Nicole Gasparini has computing facilities that include large screen PCs and Macs. The computers 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 Planetary Geology group led by Dr. Jennifer Whitten has computational facilities and open source software for image analyses, planetary remote sensing, and ground penetrating radar. 

The GATR computer and geophysical laboratory led by Dr. Cindy Ebinger is located in a large open space in Stanley Thomas 417. Geophysical Equipment:  We have seven Nanometrics Meridian Posthole broadband (120s) and two Trillium compact seismometers with Taurus dataloggers.  All are currently deployed in New Zealand and the Galápagos volcanoes.  Three NetRS GPS and Zephyr antennae are being used in campaign measurements to evaluate the rate of subsidence along passive margin normal faults, in collaboration with Dr.Karen Luttrell at Louisiana State University.  Our PulseEkko Ground Penetrating Radar system has 50, 100, and 200 MHz antennae for archaeological and geophysical surveying.  A Geometrics magnetic gradiometer system is used in teaching and archaeological research.  Computing:  Students and researchers use the 8 large screen Mac and Linux workstations to analyze geophysical and geological data.  Owing to the large data volumes generated, GATR has a Linux server and 32 Tb NAS data array, with a mirrored data archive on the Tulane CYPRESS system.   Although most of the software we use is open source (e.g., ObsPy, SAC, Seismic Handler Motif, Generic Mapping Tools), we also have licenses for Geosoft Oasis Montaj, EkkoProject, and 2D Move.  



Coordinated Instrument Facility

Micropalaeontology Sample Facility


Earth and Environmental Sciences is an active member of CSDMS, IRIS, UNAVCO, CIG, and students participate in training sessions, workshops, and conferences. 


101 Blessey Hall, New Orleans, LA 70118, 504-865-5198