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e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Water Programs at ESF

Biogeochemistry Laboratory

The laboratory is in the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology (Illick Hall, rooms 211-214 and room 219) and supports research on the biogeochemistry of a variety of systems, but particular attention is focused on forests and surface waters.  The laboratory has the potential to perform a wide range of soil, vegetation and water chemistry analyses commonly associated with elemental cycling research.  Equipment includes chemical instrumentation for quantifying different analyte concentrations, drying ovens, incubators, balances, a muffle furnace, a filtering apparatus, vacuum hoods, sampling devices, a water purification system, PC's and printers.

A Dionex DX-120 Ion Chromatographic (IC) is available for quantification of anions in water or soil samples.  The IC is computer-controlled using Dionex's PeakNet software.  Additionally, the IC has the potential to be fitted with a cation column in order to measure cation concentrations.  However, cation concentrations are presently measured using a Perkin-Elmer DIV 3300 inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrophotometer, located in the Jahn Chemistry Building, maintained by the Analytical and Technical Services at SUNY - ESF.  A Bran+Luebbe Autoanalyzer 3 is dedicated to ammonium (indophenol blue method) and total nitrogen (persulfate digestion method) analyses.  This instrument is also computer-controlled.   It has the potential to perform total phosphorus and many other chemical methods with the use of two multitest manifolds.  Dissolved organic carbon is measured using a Tekmar Phoenix 8000 Carbon Analyzer, which can also quantify dissolved inorganic carbon and total carbon.  This instrument is also computer-controlled.  Other laboratory instruments include:  a Hewlett Packard 5890 Series II Gas Chromatograph for doing trace gas analyses, a Corning Ion Analyzer 250 (pH) and a Virtis Advantage freeze drier.

Solid samples (soil and vegetation), excluding liquid extractions, may be  analyzed for total percent sulfur content, performed on the LECO Sulfur Determinator.   Total percent carbon, hydrogen’  nitrogen and sulfur for solid samples can be measured using the Thermo Electron Corporation, EA1112 elemental analyzer.  Ammonium and nitrate are extracted from solid samples with potassium chloride, and then analyzed using the Bran+Luebbe Autoanalyzer 3.  Phosphate extractable sulfate is quantified using the Dionex DX-120 Ion Chromatograph.  Total Alkalinity is measured by acid titration.

Patrick J. McHale (Instructional Support Specialist) is the laboratory manager, responsible for equipment operation and maintenance, laboratory safety and supervision of laboratory personnel.  Laboratory staff also include: David Lyons (Research Support Specialist) and Joyce Green (Research Support Specialist).

The laboratory is supervised by Myron J. Mitchell (Distinguished Professor and Director of Council on Hydrologic Systems Science).  For further information on the laboratory and interest in collaboration with biogeochemical research, contact Patrick J. McHale at (315) 470-6738 or Myron J. Mitchell at (315) 470-6765.

Research Equipment for Aquatic and Marine Chemistry

Equipment available through the Chemistry department can be used to measure virtually any chemical constituent in aquatic and marine systems, including major ions, nutrients, trace inorganic elements or compounds and trace organic compounds.  Equipment for standard water quality measures includes automated colorimetric analyzers, flame atomic absorption spectrometers, and inductively-coupled plasma emission spectrometer, ion chromatographs, selective ion electrode meters, pH meters, dissolved oxygen meters and conductivity meters.  Equipment for more specialized analyses includes a 300 and a 600 MHz NMR, electron microscopes, and atomic force microscope, FTIR spectrometers, a graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrometer, total organic carbon analyzers, a carbon-hydrogen-nitrogen analyzer and anodic stripping voltameters.  Numerous gas chromatographs are available, most with high-resolution capillary column capability.  Detector options include flame ionization, electron capture, flame photometric, photoionization and thermal conductivity.  Two gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer systems are also available.  Numerous liquid chromatographs are also available, with detector options that include variable wavelength, diode array, florescence, conductivity, low-angle laser light scattering, scintillation, refractive index and mass selective (LCMS) detection.

Most of the equipment mentioned above is used in the laboratory; however, specialized field equipment is also available.  This includes the portable meters for oxygen, conductivity, temperature, pH and ion-selective electrodes.  In addition, faculty and students frequently operate specialized, field-capable systems for on-site and/or real-time analyses.  Such systems are usually custom-constructed for purposes such as tracing sources of organic chemical contaminants, field detection of algal productivity and algal toxins, or monitoring sunlight-driven production of hydrogen peroxide.

Chemistry faculty maintain an environmental optics facility for studies in the ultraviolet, visible and near infrared portions of the solar spectrum.  This facility includes submersible, portable and laboratory radiometers with narrow bandpass filters and a submersible spectroradiometer capable of automated operation across the ultraviolet and visible spectrum.  Light sources include a NIST-traceable system for calibration of radiometers, mercury and argon lamps for irradiation studies and a highly-intensity pulsed dye laser for studies of fast reactions.

Chemistry faculty also maintain facilities for examining both marine and freshwater phytoplankton in the laboratory and the field. Included in those facilities are both portable (field) and laboratory based fluorometers dedicated to measuring in vivo chlorophyll concentrations in near real time, a number of autonomous sensors suitable for buoy deployment, and a dedicated HPLC-PDA instrument for determining chlorophyll and carotenoid signatures.  Both phase contrast and epifluorescence microscopy is readily available.  The Department has state-of-the-art culture and transfer facilities for growing up to 600L cultures of marine or freshwater algae.

All Chemistry equipment is housed in the Edwin C. Jahn Laboratory.   This building was opened in 1997 and contains laboratories designed for environmental chemistry studies.  It also contains specialized support facilities that include cold rooms, constant temperature rooms, a class 100 clean room, incubators for culturing algae, a nuclear chemistry laboratory, a computational chemistry laboratory and a rooftop platform for outdoor exposure studies