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Research Facilities

The Department of Geological Sciences has a broad range of facilities accessible for graduate research. The major in-house facilities include the following:

Aqueous geochemistry laboratory
The lab currently houses a coulometric titration system with acid-extraction and total-combustion modules for determinations of total organic and inorganic C, two automated titration systems, two extraction lines for the analysis of reduced S (concentrations and isotopic compositions), a UV-visible spectrophotometer, an ion chromatograph and a Millipore water system. The lab is licensed and contains all the necessary sample preparation equipment for 35S radiotracer work. The required liquid scintillation counters are available on campus. In addition to graduate and postdoctoral researchers, one to three undergraduate assistants typically staff the lab.

Through combined funds from NSF and MU, an inductively coupled plasma­optical emission spectrometer (ICP) was recently purchased for the geochemistry laboratory. This instrumentóa high-end, dual-view ICP with a state-of-the-art, solid-state detectoróis also equipped with an ultrasonic nebulizer, a direct-injection nebulizer and an automated sample pre-concentrator / matrix-eliminator. This combination of instrumentation optimizes the capabilities of the ICP, permitting the analysis of samples of extremely small size and with complex matrices. Most importantly, detection limits are in the low ppb range for most elements. This instrument is maintained by a 1/2-time technician with over a decade of ICP experience.

Cathodoluminescence Laboratory
Cathodoluminescence (CL) is the emission of light from material when it is irradiated with electrons. The technique is used for imaging spatial variations in the trace element composition of natural and synthetic materials. CL is used in the examination of minerals in sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks to reveal growth zoning and microstratigraphy, which are useful when chemically reconstructing the history of fluid-rock interactions.  CL is also useful to detect recrystallization of minerals that may not be otherwise observable using standard transmitted light microscopy. The Department recently purchased a computer automated, cold cathode, CITL Mk5 mounted on an Olympus BX51 petrologic microscope for optical CL studies.

Extensive network of Macintosh, IBM and SUN workstations and computers
Ancillary printing, scanning and digitizing capabilities are available in addition to standard word, data and graphic-processing software and specialized software tailored to computation requirements of individual research groups.

Fluid Inclusion microthermometry laboratory
The lab features a newly acquired Linkham THMSG 600 computer-controlled heating-freezing stage on a modified Olympus BX51 microscope. We also have a Fluid INC gas-flow stage for analysis of fluid inclusions from-198° to +700°C, including CCTV monitoring and recording of fluid inclusionphase equilibria.

Geology branch of the MU library system
The collection includes 38,500 books, 320 periodicals and 100,000 maps and charts. Computerized GeoRef and Water Resources Abstract search systems and software for reading of digital maps are also housed in the library. website >>

Geomicrobiology Laboratory
The lab has the capability to (1) culture and grow anaerobic bacteria, especially iron-reducing bacteria, sulfate-reducing bacteria and methanogens and (2) analyze bacterial abundance and activities. Equipment includes:

  1. a Coy chamber (N2/H2 atmosphere) for enrichment of anaerobic microorganisms,
  2. a gassing station for preparing anaerobic medium,
  3. a Zeiss microscope with phase contrast and epifluorescence capabilities,
  4. a 5-L New Brunswick fermentor purchased in 1999 for controlled biogeochemical studies,
  5. several incubators and water baths,
  6. a laminar flow hood for microbial analysis and
  7. a portable autoclave.

Geophysical equipment
A 12-channel seismic recorder, a proton-processing magnetometer and a resistivity meterare included. Networked UNIX, PC, and Macintosh computers.

High temperature calorimetry laboratory
The lab contains a newly acquired Setaram MHTC 96 line high-temperature calorimeter with differential scanning calorimetry and cold-to-hot drop calorimetry sensors for heat capacity and relative enthalpy measurements to 1400˚C. Applications include determination of heat capacity for minerals, rocks, glasses and melts, and determination of enthalpies of fusion.

Leitz petrography/photometer system
This system is used to analyze organic matter and vitrinite reflectance and has capabilities for computer-controlled measurements of rotational anisotropy.

Magma rheology laboratory
The lab has the capability to (1) make glasses by melting and quenching either natural rock samples or synthetic melts made from constituent oxides and (2) measure the viscosity of silicate melts over 13 orders of magnitude, and the rheology of lavas and ignimbrites at conditions relevant to flow and welding, respectively. The main instruments in the lab are

  1. Theta Instruments Concentric Cylinder viscometer for viscosity measurements at superliquidus conditions up to 1600˚C over the range 1 to 105 Pa.s
  2. Theta Instruments Rheotronic III Parallel Plate viscometer up to a maximum temperature of ~1000˚C, for the viscosity range 108 to 1013 Pa.s
  3. Thermolyne high temperature (1600°C) large-volume muffle furnace. An additional small-volume 1760˚C box furnace will be installed soon, to assist with studying refractory melts. Both furnaces can be operated in air or under an inert atmosphere.

Sample preparation facilities include a benchtop drill press with diamond core drills, Buehler Isomet wafer saw and polishing wheels, platinum crucibles, drying oven and dessicator, Mettler Toledo XS analytic balance with density determination kit, binocular and polarizing microscopes, and a large and diverse toolbox.

Organic Geochemistry Lab
Carlo Erba elemental analyzer and gas chromatograph. The elemental analyzer is equipped for both on- and off-line preparation of samples for isotopic analysis.

Scanning Electon Microscope Laboratory
This facility contains an analytical-grade electron microscope (AMRAY-1600T). The 1600T incorporates digital imaging and x-ray microanalysis for chemical mapping and quantitative analysis of minerals using a backscattered electron detector and both energy-dispersive and wavelength-dispersive x-ray spectrometers. The facility includes a computer lab for data processing and image analysis. The SEM lab was recently moved to a centralized facility for electron beam microanalysis. The Department of Geological Sciences will retain its privileges to the instruments listed above and enhance its access to a broader range of microanalytical techniques.

Scintag Pad V, microprocessor-controlled x-ray diffractometer
This instrument is a primary tool for identifying polycrystalline minerals and other materials. Rapid computer identification and characterization can be carried out using adata base of approximately 40,000 crystalline compounds.

Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer Lab
Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer Lab

Stable Isotope Laboratory
Using funds from NSF-EAR and campus matching contributions, we recently purchased two Finnigan Delta-Plus gas source mass spectrometers. Following laboratory renovations, the instruments are now installed and generating data. One instrument is equipped for on-line, continuous flow isotopic analysis via gas chromatography and a Carlo Erba elemental analyzer. We also have a second elemental analyzer for high temperature pyrolysis (TC-EA), which expands the range of on-line capabilities to include such things as oxygen in sulfate and phosphate. The dedicated continuous flow instrument, a Delta-Plus XL, is also configured for hydrogen analysis. The second instrument - a Delta-Plus with a dual inlet - is dedicated largely to a new Kiel III device for automated C and O isotope analysis of small carbonate samples via individual acidification. Collectively, these mass spectrometers are used routinely for analyses of C, O, H and N isotopes. A technician assists with daily operations of the lab.

Other Campus Facilities

The Department of Geological Sciences, in partnership with the MU Research Reactor, Department of Chemistry, and Christopher Bond Life Sciences Center, recently received funding from the National Science Foundation to build a laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-MC-ICPMS) laboratory at the Research Reactor. The instrumentation will consist of a NuPlasma high resolution multicollector mass spectrometer coupled to an Analyte 193 nm ultra-short pulse excimer laser. The targeted completion date for the laboratory is August 2010.

The research reactor also houses a fully automated system for neutron activation analysis and a new x-ray fluorescence facility. There is also a large support staff. These instruments are used routinely by members of the Department of Geological Sciences.

Department of Geological Sciences | 101 Geology Building | Columbia, MO 65211-1380
Phone: 573-882-6785 | Fax: 573-882-5458 | General inquiries:

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This file last modified Friday, 20-May-2016 09:27:36 CDT