This Major Research Instrumentation grant supports acquisition a laser cavity ring-down spectrometer (LCRS) and a elemental analyzer front-end combustion device to support determination of the elemental concentrations of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur and oxygen and stable carbon isotope ratios of bulk organic matter in sediments, soils, tissues and natural waters. The requested isotopic and elemental analysis instrumentation would support PI and student research aimed at determining the provenance and pathways of organic matter transformation between reservoirs. Studies would range from paleoclimate investigations of lacustine archives to estuarine benthic metabolism dynamics in response to environmental changes. Salem State University (SSU) is a non-Ph.D. granting institution which historically has catered to first generation college students. Acquisition of this equipment represents a major infrastructural enhancement to the research capabilities of this regional college and will support a number of regional scientific users beyond campus.


Project Report

NSF Award number EAR-1126128 was awarded to Salem State University in order to acquire an analytical system capable of quantifying carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen concentrations and the stable isotopic ratio of carbon for combustible samples. With the award, Salem State University has purchased an Elementar vario MICRO cube elemental analyzer and Isoprime 100 isotope ratio mass spectrometer (EA/IRMS) and PI Hubeny has established the Viking Environmental Stable Isotope Laboratory (VESIL). VESIL is run as an open-use cost-center and for a modest price can quantify carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, hydrogen, and oxygen concentrations and carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur stable isotope ratio of combustible samples for any user. The facility is a regional facility that involves researchers from across New England and the Eastern Seaboard. VESIL’s mission is to promote environmental stable isotope analyses for the benefit of fundamental research and student training. Much of the use of the EA/IRMS is for research grants covering topics such as paleoclimatology, sedimentation, environmental geology, and ecology. Environmental studies often work toward management solutions that ultimately assist in the stewardship of natural systems. Educational opportunities afforded by the new analytical equipment are across disciplines and institutes. In the Geological Sciences Department at Salem State, for instance, student training ranges from an introduction of the equipment and capabilities in general education courses to independent research with the equipment for seniors conducting senior thesis research. Other departments at Salem State and other Northshore Sigma Xi member institutes also utilize the VESIL facilities for student training.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Earth Sciences (EAR)
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Russell C. Kelz
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Salem State College
United States
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