Department of Geosciences

School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics

Graduate Research Opportunities

Our Department is well-equipped to provide students with research opportunities in the areas of Hydrogeology and Environmental Geology, Remote Sensing, Geospatial Information Systems, Global Positioning Systems, Geophysics, Sedimentary rocks, Geochemistry, and Structural Geology and Tectonics.

We have a wide range of research and computer facilities to support graduate students research activities of data acquisition and analysis. Below is a list of the research and computer facilities available to graduate students.

Research Facilities

  • JEOL JSM-T300 scanning electron microscope
  • Nuclide ELM-2B luminoscope with a Nikon Optiphot equipped with an automated photographic system
  • 2 research-quality Zeiss epi-fluorescence reflected light microscopes with a fluid inclusion stage and video monitor, photometer-indicator, and an automated photographic system
  • petrographic microscopes
  • rock preparation facilities, and machine shop
  • Network access to a variety of LINUX workstations, Macintosh, and PC computers
  • Parallel processing is done on 2 state of the art LINUX clusters with 10 64-bit processors, 42 32-bit processors, and 3 terabytes of disk.

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Subsurface Sedimentology and Stratigraphy Laboratory

Core viewing and subsurface data analysis lab.  A large-scale scanner for digitizing well log data is also available.

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Hydrology Laboratory

Field equipment for measuring ground and surface water flow and chemistry, including:

  • borehole bailers
  • electric water level meter
  • FlowProbe hand-held flow meter
  • Hach DREL 2010 Basic Water Quality Lab (field spectrophotometer, pH and salinity meters)
  • YSI-85 DO/salinity/conductivity meter.

Software for modeling water flow and transport, including:

  • general interfaces GMS and ArgusOne
  • Hydrus-2D (unsaturated flow and transport)
  • TOUGH2 and Tetrad (2-3D multiphase flow and transport), and many public-domain models.

Hardware and software for visualizing model results, including:

  • SGI O2 and Linux workstations
  • GoCAD
  • IBM DataExplorer software.

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Geochemical Laboratories

The Geochemical labs house sample preparation and analytical facilities. The sample prep lab uses multi-acid digestion and metaborate-tetraborate fusion techniques to take rock samples into solution for analysis.

The analytical lab hosts the following instruments:

  1. A Perkin-Elmer Optima 3300 DV inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometer (ICP-OES) instrument, with both radial and axial determination modes, which permits rapid determination of major and trace elements in rocks and water samples
  2. A Perkin-Elmer Sciex Elan 6100 DRC inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), used for trace and rare earth element determinations to low parts per trillion levels. The DRC (dynamic reaction cell) removes interfering Ar species in the plasma and allows trace determinations of several critical elements such as Fe, As, and Se. This machine is also used for Se isotope determinations
  3. A Dionex DX-600 ion chromatograph, used to determine anions and cations in waters, Cl, F, and Br in rocks, in addition to As and Se speciation
  4. Titration station, for alkalinity determinations.

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Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry Laboratories

The principal mass spectrometer is a Finnigan MAT 261 equipped with 9 collectors and a secondary electron multiplier.

Also available are an updated NBS 12 inch instrument that is used principally for Rb isotope dilution measurements, and a fixed multicollector, donated by Mobil Oil Corp., that is used for studies of Sr in carbonates.

The mass spectrometers are supported by Class 100 clean room facilities with sub-boiling acid distillation apparatus, micro- and semi-microbalances, and vessels for pressure decomposition of refractory silicates.

Studies focus on using the evolution of Sr, Nd and Pb as indexes of petrogenetic processes, geochronology, environmental Pb, use of Pb as an index of bone mineral resorption, and evolution of marine Sr.

A large inventory of spikes allows precise isotopic dilution analyses of elements of geological (U, Th, REE), environmental (Ag, Cd), or metabolic interest (Ca, Cu, Fe, Mg, Zn).

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Remote Sensing Laboratory

Remote sensing research is carried out using:

  • 12 PCs
  • Sun Ultra workstations
  • color and black-and-white printers
  • HP 2500CP Plotter.

A wide range of remote sensing data sets are processed and interpreted, including:

  • orbital radar (SIR-C/X-SAR)
  • optical (Landsat TM and ETM+, SPOT, and ASTER) imagery.

We have extensive GIS (Geographic Information Systems) facilities including:

  • ESRI site license with ARC/INFO, ARC/VIEW, ARC/GIS and MAPINFO.

We have a GeoWall stereo projection system and 3D visualization and analysis packages such as:

  • GoCad
  • AutoCad
  • 3D Studio Max.

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Geophysics Facilities

Geophysical research is supported by:

  • 2 Scintrex CG-3M Gravimeters
  • Nikon theodolite and data collector
  • TOPCON GPT 2008 Total Station electronic distance meter and theodolite
  • 2 Laser Atlanta Advantage CI reflectorless laser rangefinders
  • 2 16 channel 4000 SSE Trimble dual frequency geodetic GPS receivers
  • 2 dual frequency 18 channel Leica 530 RTK GPS systems
  • Trimble GeoExplorer GPS system with GIS dictionary and post-processing capabilities
  • Landstar RACAL DGPS real time sub-meter GPS system, and GPS post-processing software including:
    • Leica SKI
    • Spectra Precision GeoGenius
    • Trimble GPSurvey
    • Trimble Pathfinder Office.
    • 2 Scintrex GRS Differential Scintillometers
  • Seismic and radar equipment include:
    • Bison 9048 48-channel floating point seismic acquisition system with Betsy, hammer, and explosive sources for shallow to deep exploration
    • pulse EKKO IV and 1000 ground penetrating radars.

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  • Updated: February 6, 2006