The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences occupies a part of the Townes Science Center that consists of Plyler Hall, Rinker Hall, and Townes South Hall all connected by Korht Commons atrium. The Townes Science Center will be an L.E.E.D. certified building and has several sustainability features that can be used in classes, making the building a learning laboratory itself. Among the notable features are chilled beams that use cold water for cooling rather than forced air, thermal radiation heating of Kohrt Commons, low-flow hoods throughout the building, and use of treated wastewater for flushing toilets.

The department has an excellent array of laboratory facilities, and has access to additional laboratories in the departments of chemistry and biology. These facilities are used both in teaching and research. Perhaps the highlight is the undergraduate senior research experience, during which students have access to any of the necessary instrumentation or tools. Students gain valuable experience learning how to properly use instrumentation and interpret the resulting data.

Facilities on the Main Floor


Hendricks River Basins Research Initiative (RBRI) Laboratory - This is the "brain" of RBRI. The lab contains two computers and has four large tables suitable for research planning with large maps and a small research library. The lab also is the archive for more than a decade of data and paper copies of research article reprints.

Hill Biogeochemistry Laboratory - Water samples are analyzed for a variety of dissolved ions in this laboratory using the following instrumentation:

  • A Dionex 120 ion chromatograph for the measurement of anion concentrations
  • A Tekmar-Dohrman Phoenix 8000 total carbon analyzer for the measurement of dissolved organic carbon concentrations
  • An O.I. Analytical Flow System IV autoanalyzer for the measurement of total dissolved nitrogen concentrations
  • A Turner Designs A10 fluorometer for the measurement of ammonium concentrations
  • A Hach 2000 spectrometer for a variety of other analyses
  • Four Fisher Accumet AR25 benchtop pH meters used for Gran alkalinity titrations
  • Two Millipore Advantage A10 carbon-free water polishing systems
  • A Flow Safe Vortex II fume hood
  • Sartorius CP124S and Element balances

Holder Watershed Research Laboratory - This laboratory is the headquarters for stream hydrology and biogeochemistry fieldwork. Water samples are filtered, preserved and stored in this lab. Samples are filtered using a custom-maded positive pressure N 2 gas filtration apparatus. A Barnstead Nanopure Diamond water polishing system provides organic-free deionized water.

Blackwell GIS Laboratory - This laboratory is used for general GIS applications, 3D modeling, statistical analysis. Department majors have swipe card access to this lab 24/7. The laboratory has twenty four Dell workstations with a dedicated server. Software/hardware includes ArcGIS (ArcMap and ArcInfo), Erdas Imagine, WMS, Jmp, Google suite, Dreamweaver, Microsoft Office software, HP Designjet 800PS 42" poster printer, Keocera Mita color laser printer.

Ferris Booth Foundation Geochemistry Laboratory – This laboratory contains two four foot low-flow hoods, a research quality balance, stirring hot plates, a Barnstead Nanopure Diamond deionized water system, and freeze drier. The lab is currently used for extraction of nitrate from stream water and precipitation via freeze drying as silver nitrate powder. The powder is sent to the University of Waterloo for δ15N and δ18O composition of the nitrate. The lab can also be used for sequential extractions of metals from sediments and for the preparation of fused glass disks for XRF analysis.

Ferris Booth Foundation X-ray Laboratory - This laboratory is used for the identification of mineral content and chemical analysis of rocks, soils, and sediments. It contains a Phillips PW2400 X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a Rigaku MiniFlex II X-ray diffraction system.

Upper Level Classrooms - These classrooms contain petrographic and binocular microscopes.

Facilities in the Basement Level


Spatial Analysis Laboratory - Has sixteen student workroom with mirror stereoscopes and pocket stereoscopes for 3D analysis of aerial photos and satellite imageries. Includes two Dell precision workstation and two MacPro (with windows Vista 64bit edition dual boot option) with 12 GB RAM and 2 GB Video memory and 24 inches dual monitor for image processing and GIS work.

Sediment Analysis Laboratory - Ro-tap and sieves used for grain size analysis of sediments. Large oven for drying wet sediment samples.

Microscopy Sectioning Laboratory - This laboratory contains a Buehler Petro-Thin thin section system, an opaque section polishing system, a Frantz magnetic separator, an Angstrom shatterbox, and a disk mill.

Rock Sawing and Crushing Laboratory - This laboratory contains one slab saw, two trim saws, and a jaw crusher.

Sediment analysis Laboratory - This laboratory has a Ro-tap, several sets of sieves, an ultrasonic disaggregator a Wiley mill, a wrist mill, and a splitter.

Greenhouse - The greenhouse consists of greenhouse space for the Biology department and a tidal wetland solar aquatic wastewater treatment system. The wastewater treatment system provides opportunities for student research in nitrogen, carbon, and phosphorous cycling, and we are collaborating with Worrell Water Technologies, the designer, on this research.

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