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Research Facilities

Environmental Biochemistry Lab
Dr. Karen Johannesson and her research group are actively involved in studying the biogeochemical cycles of trace elements in the environment. Their research combines field, analytical, and experimental approaches to develop geochemical models that can improve our understanding of the biogeochemical processes that control trace element cycles in the near-surface environment of the Earth. Research is particularly geared towards the biogeochemistry of rare earth elements (REE) and oxyanion-forming trace elements such as arsenic, selenium, chromium, and tungsten.

Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory
Dr. Brent Goehring leads a group of researchers  applying cutting edge cosmogenic nuclide and radiocarbon techniques to a broad spectrum of questions. Our interests span the Pliocene, Pleistocene, and Holocene with an emphasis on the glacial environment and information we can learn from it about climate, tectonics, and geomorphic processes. We have a state of the art laboratory for the preparation of samples for isotope ratio analysis, including two fume hoods (one HF rated), laminar flow bench, physical rock preparation equipment, and a fully automated system for the extraction of carbon from minerals and organic materials.

Sediment Dynamics Laboratory
Dr. Kyle Straub and his research group study how sediment is transported through channels on deltas and deepwater fans. Research is also focused on relating surface processes to the stratigraphic surfaces to aid inversion of Stratigraphy for paleo-environmental conditions. These questions are addressed using carefully monitored reduced scale experiments in a range of flumes and experimental basins. Data generated in these experiments can be used to benchmark numerical models and aid stratigraphic analysis of seismic data. Laboratory flumes are also used for a range of demonstrations in both undergraduate and graduate level classes.

Sedimentary Processes Lab
The Quaternary research group led by Dr Tor Törnqvist uses this facility to examine sediment cores and to process sediment samples for a variety of sedimentological, paleoenvironmental, and geochemical analyses. A 17 m3 walk-in refrigerator for core storage is located adjacent to the lab. The lab contains a fume hood and is fully equipped for chemical sample preparation for grain size and other sedimentological measurements, as well as sieving of sediments for microscopic analysis of plant remains and microfossils. This equipment includes an oven, a furnace, an analytical balance, and several microscopes. Field equipment includes an extensive set of hand-operated Edelman augers and gouges (including an OSL sampler), as well as a TOPCON GTS-4B total station. The lab houses a server which provides group members access to our database of >1000 shallow boreholes from various portions of the US Gulf Coast. In a separate space, we also operate a dark room for chemical sample preparation for OSL dating. The OSL sample preparation lab is illuminated by an array of 12 amber (590 nm) LEDs. This lab is equipped with standard facilities (fume hood, oven, sieves, settling tubes, pH meter,etc.) and supplies for conventional chemical pretreatment and density separation of OSL samples.

Computer Laboratories and Software
The department’s computer lab is used for computer-based courses, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, and it is used by graduate students for research purposes. It is an important resource for teaching GIS, remote sensing, and subsurface interpretation, particularly 3D structural geology and 3D stratigraphy, and makes important software programs available to students, including (but not limited to) MathWorks Matlab, Generic Mapping Tools, Harris Geospatial Solutions ENVI, Golden Software Surfer, IHS Kingdom suite, Midland Valley 2D and 3D Move, and Geochemist’s Workbench. The lab features 15 quad core PC workstations, with dual monitors. We have a large-format color printer, and general purpose printers.  The room is equipped with a computer projection system and a GeoWall is available for 3D visualization.

Survey and Geophysical Equipment
The Surface Processes Group led by Dr Nicole Gasparini has computing facilities that include large screen PCs and Macs. The computers are used for spatial analysis, mainly using ArcGIS, and for running numerical models which simulate landscape evolution. The lab also has surveying field equipment, including GPS and a laser range finder.

The Planetary Geology group led by Dr. Jennifer Whitten has computational facilities and open source software for image analyses, planetary remote sensing, and ground penetrating radar. 

The GATR computer and geophysical laboratory led by Dr. Cindy Ebinger is located in a large open space in Stanley Thomas 417. Geophysical Equipment:  We have seven Nanometrics Meridian Posthole broadband (120s) and two Trillium compact seismometers with Taurus dataloggers.  All are currently deployed in New Zealand and the Galápagos volcanoes.  Three NetRS GPS and Zephyr antennae are being used in campaign measurements to evaluate the rate of subsidence along passive margin normal faults, in collaboration with Dr.Karen Luttrell at Louisiana State University.  Our PulseEkko Ground Penetrating Radar system has 50, 100, and 200 MHz antennae for archaeological and geophysical surveying.  A Geometrics magnetic gradiometer system is used in teaching and archaeological research.

Computing:  Students and researchers use the 8 large screen Mac and Linux workstations to analyze geophysical and geological data. Owing to the large data volumes generated, GATR has a Linux server and 32 Tb NAS data array, with a mirrored data archive on the Tulane CYPRESS system.  Although most of the software we use is open source (e.g., ObsPy, SAC, Seismic Handler Motif, Generic Mapping Tools), we also have licenses for Geosoft Oasis Montaj, EkkoProject, and 2D Move.  




  • Earth and Environmental Sciences is an active member of CSDMS, IRIS, UNAVCO, CIG, and students participate in training sessions, workshops, and conferences.