Over the course of the last 10 to 12 years the Department of Earth Sciences faculty and their students have engaged in macro-to-micro scale geochemical analyses of rocks, minerals, waters, and noble gases. Physical property measurements such as heat flow in streams, flow rates of streams, magnetic properties recorded in lake and ocean sediment cores, size distribution of sediment particles, as well as the oxidation state of the water column from which the sediments derived are also undertaken.


The department recently retired an XRF, an XRD, and a Faxitron. The department still does Elemental analyses, but now does so on individual mineral grains. Using the JEOL 8600 equipped with the Geller MicroAnalytical control system major, minor, trace element concentrations are determined in thin sections and grain mounts. Fairly routine analyses are done on silicate rock samples as well as basaltic glasses. Non-silicate rock samples are more problematic, mostly due to a lack of matrix-matched standards. Elemental analyses are also possible using the Bruker Auror M90 Q-ICPMS. Currently, any aqueous solution can be analyzed via the Bruker instrument. Additional front ends could be acquired by PI Lu in the future if he wanted to expand his analytical capabilities with the Bruker instrument.

The department also has the capability to perform Anion and Cation concentration determinations on aqueous solutions using the Dionix system (PI Lautz). Bulk Carbon and Nitrogen concentrations can be determined by the Costech EA currently under stewardship of PI Scholz. Bulk Carbon can also be determined in samples via a Coulometer (PI Scholz).


The real geochemical strength of the department is in Isotopic Analysis. Recently PI’s Lautz, Hoke, Lu, and Siegel acquired a Picarro Water Isotope Analyzer allowing for the rapid determination of Hydrogen and oxygen isotopic composition in microliter sized valumes of liquid water. PI’s Baldwin and Fitzgerald have two mass spectrometers allowing for the isotopic determination of noble gases in minerals using either a magnetic sector Micromass 5400 mass spectrometer (this can measure all noble gases and has been used to do so in terrestrial as well as extraterrestrial samples) or a Balzers quadrupole mass spectrometer (used for routine He analysis as part of U-Th/He dating). In addition to traditional step heating furnaces on each instrument, both instruments can be utilize either a CO2 laser for low blank bulk sample analysis or an ArF Excimer laser system for in situ microanalysis. PI Samson has a venerable >20 year old Sector54 Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer that is still used for geochronology and isotope tracer studies, and still produces high precision Nd isotopic data. In 2011 PI Samson acquired a new TIMS instrument, the IsotopX Phoenix. The strength of the Phoenix lies in its state of the art electronics resulting in extraordinary quiet electronics reducing baseline electronic noise and enhanced signal size allowing for the analysis of ever smaller sample sizes. As mentioned above, PI Lu has the Aurora Q-ICPMS which is also capable of isotopic analysis but is usually used for elemental analysis given the near full periodic table ionization capabilities of the Argon Plasma ionization source. PI Junium has recently taken delivery of his new Stable Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometer (SIRMS) that is an Isoprime 100. The Isoprime 100 will operate in Continuous Flow mode and when coupled to a new Elementar Elemental Analyzer will be capable of producing isotope composition and concentration data on H, C, N, O, and S. PI Junium has also placed an order for a Thermo LCQ liquid chromatography mass spectrometer. The LCQ is a High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) instrumentation is used for the separation, optical characterization and purification of high-mass organic compounds extracted from geologic materials. It is coupled to an ion-trap mass spectrometer that is used for the identification, structural characterization and quantification of organic compounds that can be separated by HPLC. It provides the means to analyze and quantify a wide range of organic compounds from diverse modern and ancient geologic materials.


Another area of consideration that warrants mention in this report is the general topic of “State of matter interactions”. What is the nature of water/rock interactions in the crust, in the mantle, in the near surface. What of rock/gas interactions? What of liquid gas interactions? These are areas of investigation in our hydrology and water resources programs, in the Lava Project program, in the Thermochronology program, as well as the Lacustrine Rift programs. Many of the instruments already mentioned are brought to bear on these areas. One particular technique warrants mention here, microscopy. The Department has many optical microscopes. Our teaching classrooms/laboratories are equipped with a bevy of relatively new optical microscopes used in paleontology, sedimentology, mineralogy, and petrology. All of the polarizing microscopes are of a high enough quality to perform research grade work. The Department also has polarizing microscopes that can be fitted with Universal Stages for the study of optical orientation of quartz in select samples. PI Fitzgerald has a Nikon research quality scope with automated stage that forms the basis of the fission track lab and PI Baldwin a Nikon research quality petrographic polarizing microscope. The JEOL8600 is also a functioning scanning electron microscope equipped with Secondary Ionization, Backscatter Electron, and Cathodoluminescence imaging capabilities.


Syracuse University, US government funding agencies (NSF), and industry, have invested considerable funds in the acquisition of state-of-the-art instrumentation to support the research activities of Earth Sciences faculty. With the exception of microscopes used for teaching, currently these resources are managed by PIs, with individual faculty members responsible for overseeing the operation, maintenance, and upgrade of equipment used by their research group. In October 2012 the faculty toured all analytical facilities housed in Heroy Geology Laboratory. Principal Investigators (PIs) and technical support staff that assume responsibility for each lab are designated on the door to the labs, many of which have restricted access (e.g., clean labs, noble gas lab). Table 1 provides the current inventory of analytical equipment, including mass spectrometers, microscopes, and computers. Only equipment housed in Heroy Geology Laboratory that produces final (i.e., publishable) data is listed. Equipment used for sample preparation is not included, nor is field equipment.


Analytical Equipment (vintage/purchased) PIs Space 
JEOL8600-Geller (1980s vintage/2006 acquired) Samson HGL330
JEOL8600-AMS (1980’s vintage, 2012 acquired) EBSD Karson HGL320
Picarro RDCLS (2012) Lautz Hoke Lu HGL 313
Ion Chromatograph (2008) Lautz HGL 317a
5400 Noble Gas MS (2001) Baldwin HGL 318
He quadrupole MS (2000) Baldwin, Fitzgerald HGL 318
Phoenix TIMS (2011) Samson  HGL 307
Sector 54 TIMS (1990) Samson HGL 307
Elementar EA (2012) Junium HGL 326
Isoprime IRMS (2012) Junium HGL 326
LCMS (2012) Junium HGL 326
Bruker Aurora M90 Q-ICPMS(2012)  Lu HGL311
DCP (1983) # Siegel HGL313
Costech EA (2005) Scholz HGL 118
Carbon Analyzer (1995) Scholz HGL 118
Microscopes    
FT Microscope (Nikon OPTIPHOT2) & stage (1992) Fitzgerald HGL 207B
Nikon OPTIPHOT2-POL (1992) Baldwin HGL 207B
Olympus SZX12 Binocular Microscope Fitzgerald/Baldwin HGL 207B
Leica S8 POL microscope Hoke  HGL 116
Student POL microscopes Dept HGL 219
Computers*    
4 quad-core workstations/GIS and image processing Hoke HGL 116
Super Computer Cluster (2012) Moucha Green Data Center
Seismic Reflection Lab Workstations (4), includes backup Scholz HGL 007/9

* only major computer equipment listed here