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Departmental Laboratories and Analytical Facilities

The Department is housed in Vanderbilt's natural science complex and shares analytical equipment with Chemistry and Engineering.  Experimental and analytical facilities are readily accessible to graduate students.  They include the following:

Microscopy and Microanalysis SEM

Tescan Vega 3 LM Variable Pressure Scanning Electron Microscope with secondary electron, backscatter, Tescan low-vac secondary electron, cathodoluminescence, Oxford X-max 50 mm2 EDS, Oxford EBSD, and Gatan MonoCL detectors, along with sample preparation equipment including coater/sputtering system and EBSD-quality polisher.  To schedule time, view the calendar and contact the SEM administrators.

Geochemical Processes 

  • ELA-ICP-MS: ThermoFisher iCAP Qc quadrupole ICP-MS with CETAC autosampler and Photon Machine Excite 193nm excimer laser ablation system
  • Experimental petrology lab including high-temperature furnaces, piston cylinder apparatus, hydrothermal diamond anvil cell, four cold seal pressure vessel systems, fluid inclusion heating/cooling stage
  • Environmental equipment includes a portable X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometer, Teledyne ISCO automatic water sampler, and Decagon TDR device

Transport Phenomena 

  • Fluid dynamics and sediment transport laboratory with stream table
  • particle settling tanks and a specialized "fluid intrusion" tank
  • high-speed and lapse-rate digital cameras controlled by a high-performance work station.

Sedimentary Processes

  • Sedimentology laboratory including a Geotek multi-sensor core logger featuring magnetic susceptibility, core density by gamma attenuation, and a multi-spectral digital camera
  • Malvern laser-diffraction particle-size analyzer
  • Two Ortec planar gamma detectors for radionuclide geochronology.

Magmatic Processes and Crustal Evolution 

  • Optical microscopy lab with Zeiss Axioskop transmitted and reflected-light petrographic microscope and Zeiss Stemi 2000 stereoscope, equipped with digital imaging system
  • Petrography lab with transmitted and reflected-light optical microscopes and projection equipment
  • Mineral separation facilities including Franz magnetic separator, heavy liquids, stereoscopes and glassware
  • Sample preparation lab with rock saws, rock chipping and milling equipment
  • Equipment for scaled tank experiments using viscous liquids

Marine Processes

  • Edgetech 216s sub-bottom chirp profiler for high-resolution stratigraphic imaging in aqueous environments
  • Sea-Bird salinity-temperature-depth water-column profiler with optical backscatter for suspended sediment concentrations
  • Triton SB-Interpreter seismic-image processing software.

Paleoecology and Paleoenvironments 

We are a member of the Hancock Biological Station consortium on Kentucky Lake, which has a full complement of field and analytical equipment for collecting and analyzing sediment and biological samples, as well as aquaria and greenhouses.  Department laboratory includes binocular microscopes, fossil collections, and X-radiography unit for burrow analysis.

Other Analytical Facilities on Campus 

  • Laser Ablation ICP-MS and TGA-MS
  • Powder X-ray diffractometer with high-temperature furnace attachment
  • Atomic absorption spectrometers (flame and graphite furnace)
  • Ion and Gas chromatographs and TOC analyzer
  • Eight alpha detectors for radionuclide analyses

General Equipment 

  • GPS units with integrated topographic map software
  • GIS lab with large format digitizers, scanners, plotter
  • networked microcomputers and server
  • Worden gravimeter

Collaborative use of external facilities 

  • SHRIMP (Sensitive High-Resolution Ion Microprobe) at Stanford University
  • Ion Microprobe at UCLA
  • Argonne National Laboratory