Facilities and Equipment
Laboratory facilities and research in the geology department are discussed together because of the close connection between available laboratory equipment and research programs. Research in our department serves the dual role of faculty development and teaching. Research labs are the same labs in which many upper level courses are taught. Participation in research and research-like experiences are a vital part of the Union Geology education. All laboratory equipment is used in courses, and is accessible to students for use in independent, faculty supervised research projects.
The geological collections in the department represent a significant teaching and research resource. These include the Wheatley, Pfordte, Leo M. Hall, and other collections of minerals, rocks, and fossils. The department also maintains a sizable collection of topographic and geologic maps in addition to the library collections.
The major items of laboratory equipment support specific research and teaching needs. These include rock and mineral analysis (X-ray diffraction, ICP-MS), high pressure equipment to simulate conditions deep within the earth and to make measurements of material properties under those conditions, sedimentology (grain size analysis, inorganic and organic carbon analysis, core image analysis), water analysis (ion chromatograph, field measurement equipment) and general sample preparation equipment (crushers, sieves and shakers, rock saws, thin section equipment).
- PerkinElmer Elan 6100 DRC ICP-MS instrument. For chemical analysis of aqueous solutions such as dissolved rocks or natural waters. Includes an optionally cooled spray chamber, autosampler, and the Dynamic Reaction Cell device for reducing interference from argon-bearing and other polyatomic interferences.
- Sample preparation labs: slab saw, trim saw, thin section machines, diamond polishing laps, Frantz magnetic separator, Rogers table, steel jaw crusher, steel disk mill, shatterbox with tungsten carbide and aluminum oxide vessels, Rocklabs hydraulic crusher/splitter, Picotrace digestion system.
- Heavy liquid mineral separation setup.
- Laminar flow clean benchs (one for sample separation, one for the ICP-MS).
- Student polarizing microscopes (12), Olympus transmitted and reflected light research microscopes (3), Olympus stereo zoom microscopes (2), student stereo microscopes (many), several microscope camera systems, index oils, refractometer, Cathodoluminescence stage.
- Swift electromechanical point count stage.
- Philips X-ray powder diffractometer with cobalt tube.
- Coulter laser diffraction particle size analyzer.
- Organic/inorganic carbon analyzer.
- Numerous computers connected to the Union College network and various printers.
- General laboratory space including 7 fume hoods, electronic balances, 18 Mohm deionized water, autopipettes, drying ovens, high-temperature furnaces, crucibles, liquid and solid standard reference materials of various types, and other laboratory equipment.
- Conductivity meters, pH meters, dissolved oxygen meters, and related equipment for field water chemistry analyses.
- Soft sediment core analysis lab and coring equipment.
- Fission track analysis lab and related equipment.
- Field equipment including Brunton compasses, altimeters, hand-held and base station GPS systems, ground resistivity, shallow 12-channel seismometer, RF ground inductance, gravimeter, total field magnetometer.
- Ion chromatograph for anion, cation, and dissolved silica analyses.
- Sub-bottom and side-scan sonar.
- In addition the Geology Department is a major user of the interdisciplinary scanning electron microscope facility.