MRI: Acquisition of an CRF Core Scanner for the Lamont-Doherty Core Respository

Lead PI: Dr. Maureen E. Raymo, Pratigya Polissar , , Timothy Kenna, Jerry McManus, Peter B. deMenocal

Unit Affiliation: Biology and Paleo Environment, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

August 2015 - July 2017
North America ; New York
Project Type: Research Facilities & Operations

DESCRIPTION: This project will support the acquisition of an X-ray fluorescence (XRF) core scanner capable of automated, high-throughput, high-resolution geochemical analysis of sediment cores and other geological materials such as slabbed rock cores or coral. The geochemical analysis of sediment and rock cores, from land and sea, is a critical component of research studying past and present climate change, Earth's tectonic history, and anthropogenic disturbance of our environment. In climate research especially, high-resolution geochemical and mineralogical proxy-data is needed to model and understanding mechanisms of climate change on time scales ranging from decades to millions of years. The three most important broader impacts of this proposal are a) the establishment of a regional analytical facility that will serve scientists and students within a three hour radius of New York; b) the provision of enhanced and needed analytical capability to numerous pre-tenure faculty and scientists at Columbia University; and c) the acquisition of an instrument that will provide graduate student training central to their professional life and chosen fields. In addition, the XRF facility will enhance the educational and research experience of the many students and laypeople that come to visit and/or work in the Repository. The number of visitors to the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository has increased dramatically over the last four years as the Repository has evolved into an educational and outreach center for colleagues, local colleges, high schools, local intern programs, ELHI teachers and their local professional organizations, workshop/conference attendees, and journalists, among others. The goal of the Repository has been to create an environment that lends itself to educating students and adults at all educational levels while simultaneously inspiring curiosity and wonder. Particular effort has been put into to ensuring that visitors understand (in an age-appropriate way) the link between the science carried out every day in the Repository and the larger, issues of evolution, natural resource availability, and climate change that all citizens should understand.

XRF data are used to study topics as diverse as terrestrial drought and precipitation history, glacier history, groundwater health issues, CO2 sequestration, and fisheries and resource pollution issues. Numerous scientific projects based at Lamont, funded by programs spanning the breadth of the Geosciences Directorate, will benefit from the acquisition of the XRF core scanner. In addition, numerous scientists within the northeast corridor will also benefit from the expansion of Lamont's analytical facilities. Many scientists who run NSF-funded coring expeditions, on land or sea, recognize the benefits of sampling and archiving their cores at the Lamont-Doherty Core Repository, especially if their cores require cold storage. An XRF core scanner at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory will meet the objective of enhancing the analytical services offered to internal and external investigators, as well as making it much easier for students in the region to be active participants in the research they are undertaking with their advisors.