Acquisition of an Inductively Coupled Plasma-atomic Emission Spectrometer and an Ion Chromatograph
This project involves the acquisition, installation and testing of two pieces of equipment for the analysis of natural waters, rocks, soils, and products of laboratory experiments at the University of Idaho. The instruments are: 1) an inductively coupled plasma-atomic emission spectrometer (ICP-AES) which permits determination of most chemical elements at low concentrations in geological samples; and 2) an ion chromatograph (IC) which is used to analyze waters for anions like chloride and sulfate. These instruments are used by several groups of Earth Scientists at the University of Idaho and nearby Washington State University, including geochemists, geomicrobiologists, mineralogists, igneous petrologists, hydrologists and soil scientists.
The new ICP-AES and IC support a variety of studies in the earth sciences. These include, but are not limited to, studies that contribute to a better understanding of: 1) how economic deposits of platinum-group elements and molybdenum are formed; 2) the behavior of radionuclides in soils and natural waters; 3) fault hydrology in geothermal systems; 4) the use of a group of minerals called zeolites in the remediation of waters contaminated with radionuclides and heavy metals: 5) the fate of asbestos in the human lung; 6) the biogeochemistry of life in extreme environments; 7) how microbes influence the geochemistry of the toxic metals selenium and arsenic; 8) the eruptive styles of volcanoes; 9) the environment of deposition of fossils at the Hagermann Fossil Beds National Monument in Idaho. All of these projects have significant socioeconomic applications.
In addition to projects at the University of Idaho and Washington State University, the new instruments are available to other users in the region on a fee-for-service basis. Importantly, the ICP-AES and IC are used to train undergraduate and graduate students in analytical geochemistry. The instruments are employed both in formal course work and student research projects.