Research Facilities


Research facilities used by faculty and students in the department include facilities in Thompson Hall and Nichols Hall .

Computer laboratory

Geology maintains a computer laboratory in Nichols Hall. The lab is available to all geology majors and contains computers, scanners and printers. Computers with industry software (Kingdom, Petra, Geochemists Workbench, Beocat, etc.) in the laboratory are used for exercises in geophysics, petrology, petroleum geology, and geochemical modeling courses as well as research projects. A 44" plotter is also available in Thompson Hall and used to print posters for presentations.

Teaching facilities

Research and teaching go hand-in-hand in our department. As such, laboratory facilities and equipment in the department are used for both research and teaching. We also have some equipment used primarily to enhance our courses including the Augmented Reality Sandbox . The AR Sandbox uses 3D visualization applications to enable users to create topographic models by shaping real sand, which is then augmented in real time by an elevation color map projected onto the sand; the projection includes topographic contour lines and simulated surface water and precipitation. Students are able to interact with the sandbox and see immediately how different topographies would appear on a map as well as how those differences would affect the movement of water through a landscape or how differences in precipitation might affect that landscape.

Research laboratories

Thompson Hall includes several research laboratories, including those listed in the following table.

Laboratory Contact
Luminescence Dating Lab Dr. Spencer
Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology Labs Dr. Kirk
Porous Media Research Lab Dr. Ghanbarian
Petrology and Minerology Labs Dr. LaCroix

Collectively, these labs contain a wide array of instruments and field equipment (see below) as well as equipment used for clay mineral separation, cutting and crushing rock, sectioning and polishing, and other rock and sediment sample preparation tasks. Binocular and petrographic microscopes, which include fixed digital cameras, are available for collecting sample images. Fume hoods, analytical balances, drying ovens, centrifuges, an anaerobic chamber, and two ultra-pure water systems are also available.

Analytical instruments

Our department houses a wide range of analytical equipment including:

  • Raman microscope (Renishaw inVia)
  • Fluid inclusion stage (Linkam THMSG600 stage on a Nikon Eclipse microscope)
  • Cathodoluminescence microscope
  • X-Ray Diffractometer, also known as XRD, (PANalytical Empyrean) that can analyze both amorphous and crystalline solid-phase samples using numerous techniques
  • Hand-held X-ray fluorescence spectrometer (Bruker Tracer III) used to analyze the chemical composition of rocks and minerals
  • Fully-automated luminescence dating system (model no. Risø TL-DA-20C/D)
  • Gas chromatograph (Gow Mac 580 series) used for gas compositional analysis
  • Ion chromatography system (Dionex ICS-1100) capable of analyzing a wide range of solutes in water samples
  • Carbon analyzer system (Shimadzu) capable of measuring total C and N in water samples and total C and inorganic C in solid samples
  • UV-Vis spectrophotometers also used for water chemistry analyses
  • Digital inverted fluorescence microscope (EVOS) for capturing multi-channel fluorescence images at high resolution

Field equipment

Field equipment available in the department for undergraduate and graduate research include:

  • Hand-held transits
  • GPS devices
  • Groundwater pumps
  • Water level meters
  • Water quality monitoring devices
  • Topcon GTS-229 laser total station
  • Proton precession magnetometer
  • Ground-penetrating radar system with antennae for two different depth ranges
  • Worden gravimeter
  • Electromagnetic sensor
  • Seismic reflection/refraction system
  • Portable Probe Permeameter (for inquiries, please contact Dr. Ghanbarian)

Other research facilities available on campus

Numerous other research facilities are also available on campus. An extensive list is found here . On-campus facilities used regularly by Geology students and faculty include: