Geoscience Equipment Photo

The Geoscience Department has three instructional classrooms, four student-faculty research laboratories, a rock preparation room, an X-ray diffraction lab, a geochemical instrument lab, a palynology lab, a seminar room, and three basement storage rooms for maps, camping supplies, and field equipment. We also have access to a shared cold storage facility.

Research/Specialized Upper Level Teaching Labs: The Geoscience Department has four student-faculty research laboratories on the first floor of Lansing supporting research in Meteorology/Climatology, Geochemistry/Limnology, Paleontology/Earth History, and Sedimentology/ Paleoclimatology. Additional research space includes a palynology preparation laboratory, a rock preparation laboratory, and an X-Ray Diffraction laboratory. We also share a geochemical instrument laboratory with the Chemistry Department, and cold room storage with the other science departments.

Meteorology/Climatology Lab houses computer workstations for student use during the academic year as part of independent study projects and summer research under Professor Laird's direction. In this lab, students use meteorological software to analyze radar data, climatological surface data, digital elevation models, and large meteorological databases.

Geochemistry/Limnology Lab contains instrumentation for the chemical analysis of water samples collected routinely from lakes and streams in the Finger Lakes region under the supervision of Professor Halfman. The lab is equipped with refrigerators for temporary sample storage, drying oven and two UV spectrophotometers, used to measure nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations in lake and stream samples. The lab also stores portable pH/temperature/specific conductance/dissolved oxygen probes, Hach titration kits, a Marsh-McBirney flow meters, and ISCO stream sampler are used to make field measurements.

Geochemistry/Sedimentology/Paleoclimatology Lab is a wet/dry lab equipped for the routine investigation of water, sediment, and rock overseen by Professors Curtin and Finkelstein. There is ample lab bench space for sample preparation in ductless or chemical fume hoods for wet chemistry work. The inner analytical lab room houses the elemental analyzer, laser particle size analyzer (requires a continual supply of DI water to operate), cavity ring-down spectrometer, and a microbalance.

Paleobiology/Earth History Lab houses paleontological specimens, sample preparation materials, imaging and measuring equipment, and computers and specialized software for data analysis. Large specimen cases house fossils under current study. Microscopes include a transmitted light phase-contrast Leica microscope for viewing microscopic subjects and a boom-mounted binocular Leica microscope for viewing macroscopic specimens. A digital camera system links directly from the microscopes to computer for image capture, manipulation, and analysis. The lab is shared by Professors Arens and Kendrick.

Palynology Lab features a fume hood rated for hydrofluoric acid (HF) use to extract pollen, spores, and other organic material from rock samples by Professor Arens and her research students. They use mechanical and chemical methods to break down the rock matrix to extract the pollen using the rock preparation room or the paleontology lab and then the centrifuges and HF treatments in the fume hood in the palynology lab.

Rock Preparation Lab is used in both teaching and student-faculty research. Several courses routinely use the diamond-edged rock saw, trim saw, polisher/grinder unit, sieve sets, jaw crusher, and SPEX sample mill/pulverizer. The lab also contains a McCrone micronizing mill to prepare samples for whole rock powder X-ray diffraction.

X-Ray Diffractometer Lab is located in the basement of Lansing and overseen by Professors McKinney and Curtin. It houses an X-ray diffractometer and is used for teaching and research that investigates the structure and composition of minerals and rocks.

Teaching and Research Vessels: Two vessels play key roles in our teaching and research, the William Scandling, our 65-ft research vessel, which is docked at the northeastern corner of Seneca Lake, and the JB Snow, a 25-ft pontoon boat, which is stored on a trailer in a pole barn on campus. The William Scandling is used regularly by introductory and upper-level courses offered by Geoscience faculty. The boat is a fully equipped for sediment, water, and biota studies. This equipment includes a stereomicroscope, a binocular microscope with camera, and CTDs for determining temperature, salinity, chlorophyll concentration, transparency, pH, and dissolved oxygen content of the water column. Sediment sampling gear includes a ponar dredge and various gravity and piston corers. Additional instrumentation deployed using the research vessel includes high resolution seismic profiling and side scan sonar equipment, along with sediment traps, acoustic Doppler current profilers, and sediment traps.

Get Involved

The Hot Spot is a student-run organization that may be of interest to students studying geoscience.

For more information about these organizations or to learn about starting your own geoscience-themed club, contact Cully Seamans ( in the Office of Student Activities.



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