Table of Contents

Chemistry Lab and Microbiology Lab locations on Fo'c's'le Deck.


The Chemistry laboratory is used by shipboard scientists to conduct organic and inorganic geochemical analyses. A primary responsibility of the organic geochemists is to provide hydrocarbon data for safety and environmental concerns. In addition, instruments are available for determining the source, amount, and maturity of organic matter; carbonate content; and total carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur. 

Inorganic geochemists have a wide array of analytical instruments at their disposal for determination of a large range of interstitial water constituents that typically include pH, alkalinity, chloride, calcium, magnesium, sulfate, potassium, strontium, sodium, manganese, phosphate, silica, and ammonium. Two Laboratory specialists provide dedicated, 24-hour technical support.

Organic Geochemistry

Safety Monitoring

Organic geochemists perform a vital function on the ship by providing routine safety monitoring for hydrocarbon gases. Typically, a ~5 cm3 sediment headspace sample is collected at a frequency of one every 10 meters, heated, and the evolved gases are analyzed with a gas chromatograph (GC). When gas pockets are detected in the core liner, a vacutainer sample can be taken to sample the gas directly. One Agilent GC is equipped with an FID detector for rapid determination of methane, ethane, ethylene, propane, and propylene. The second Agilent GC is equipped with FID and TCD detectors to measure hydrocarbons from methane to hexane. In addition, nonhydrocarbon gases such as hydrogen sulfide, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide can be analyzed at the same time as hydrocarbon gases.

Guidelines for this responsibility can be found at these links:

ODP Technical Note 30

EPSP Safety Review Report and Expedition Safety Package Guidelines

Organic Matter

A Weatherford Instruments Source Rock Analyzer (SRA) uses a pyrolysis technique to identify the type and maturity of organic matter.

Elemental Analysis

Sediment samples can also be analyzed for total carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, and carbonate carbon. The total organic carbon of the sediment can be determined by calculating the difference between total carbon and carbonate carbon. Carbonate carbon is measured by coulometric titration using a Coulometrics CM5011 analyzer. A Thermo Electron Flash EA 1112 Elemental Analyzer is used to determine total carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur.

Inorganic Geochemistry

Shipboard interstitial (pore) water analyses are typically performed on waters extracted from 5–10 cm whole-round sections. The routine shipboard interstitial water sampling program calls for one whole-round sample to be taken per core for the first six cores, and one sample every third core thereafter. Pore water is extracted from core samples by applying pressures up to 40,000 lb (~4150 psi) with a Carver hydraulic press. Immediately after extraction and filtration, aliquots are analyzed for salinity using a hand-held particular refractometer and for pH and alkalinity using Metrohm titrators.

Chloride is also determined by titration. A variety of nutrients and other pore water constituents (e.g., ammonium, silica, phosphate, nitrate, and nitrite) can be determined using a Cary UV-VIS spectrometer. Numerous cations and anions can be analyzed using a Metrohm Ion Chromatograph (e.g., calcium, magnesium, sulfate). A variety of other elements can be determined by inductively-coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry on a Agilent ICP-OES 5110. A typical suite of elements determined for interstitial water samples includes Sr, Li, Fe, Mn, B, and Ba. In addition, hard rock samples can be analyzed for all major and minor elements.

Analytical Gas Monitor

Adelphi Twin Jet Ampoule Sealer

Alkalinity/pH - Metrohm 794 Basic Titrino Autotitrator 

Balances - Cahn Model 31 Microbalance & Mettler-Toledo XS204 Dual-Balance System

Carver Hydraulic Presses


Chloride Metrohm 785 DMP Titrino Autotitrator

CHNS - Thermo Electron Flash EA 1112 Elemental Analyzer

Coulometer - Coulometrics CM5011 

GC - Agilent 7890 Gas Chromatographs

GC-PFT: Agilent 6890 Gas Chromatograph with micro-ECD

IC - Metrohm Ion Chromatograph

ICP-OES - Agilent 5110 

SALINITY - S66366 Refractometer

SPEC - Agilent Cary 100 UV-Visible Spectrophotometer

SRA - Weatherford Instruments Source Rock Analyzer 

TOC - Total Organic Carbon Analyzer

Please note that proprietary manuals may be available upon request and subject to limited use.

Back to Laboratory Manuals, Guides, and Resources

  • No labels