The Geomorphology Laboratory

The Geomorphology Laboratory (006 Fairchild)

The Lab is equipped with traditional facilities for the analysis of both fine-grained and coarse-grained components of soils and sediments. For fine-grained analyses, the Lab utilizes both the hydrometer and pipette methods for particle size analysis. As part of the sample preparation, samples must be oven-dried, weighed, and ultimately dispersed. The Lab possesses two high-grade ovens (one gravity feed and one mechanical vent), a de-ionizer, a Mettler self-taring scale, an analytical balance for precise weighing, a high-capacity fume hood, and three soil mixers for soil preparation. For subsequent analysis of the coarser soil/sediment fraction, the Lab is equipped with a sonic sifter for rapid analysis of the sand fraction and a Ro-Tap for sediment sieving of the extremely coarse fraction (coarser than 2 mm). For chemical analyses, the Lab possesses equipment for soil and water pH measurements, specific conductivity and salinity measurements, and a muffle furnace for organic matter analyses of soils. Besides furnishing equipment for scientific analysis, the Lab is also equipped with various safety mechanisms in case of an emergency – including an eye wash and emergency shower for any chemical accidents.

Although this and other field and laboratory equipment has been purchased primarily for faculty research, it has a substantial spillover into student research and undergraduate teaching. Currently, several students are utilizing this equipment for Senior and Honor theses, and almost all of this equipment gets incorporated into the physical geography teaching agenda. For our mandatory field and research methods class a physical geography field exercise (taking place either at Pine Park, Hanover or at the Dartmouth's Second College Grant) is required where students learn and utilize the surveying equipment, current meter equipment, and water quality equipment. For both Geomorphology and Fluvial Geomorphology courses, students utilize all aforementioned laboratory and field equipment as part of the course design, and many students select research topics incorporating field and laboratory analyses. In essence, the Department owns an variety of sophisticated and state-of-the-art equipment that is both at the disposal of our students and incorporated into our class structure, and exposes them to a technological level that at least rivals--if not surpasses--most graduate research institutions.