The PI requests MRI funding to acquire a gas source mass spectrometer and carbonate preparation device for applications in the geosciences. This instrument will be used to support projects in mantle geochemistry, paleoceanography and paleoclimatology, and physical anthropology. Current demand for this instrument requires the ability to measure up to 10,000 samples per year, primarily in the form of foraminifera, coral powder, enamel and phenocryst CO2. The proposed instrument is designed to replace the aging instrumentation without catastrophic loss of productivity, while also enabling the measurement of small mass samples that are currently being "outsourced" to other laboratories.

Broader Impacts: The instrument will be placed in a newly reorganized SIO Center for Isotope Geochemistry - part of a larger network of core analytical facilities. Intensive "hands on" training of graduate students and advanced undergraduates is an essential goal of the center. The instrumentation would also support classroom instruction on graduate and undergraduate levels, and it would serve as a natural means for strengthening existing programs aimed at increasing diversity in science. The "STARS" program - Summer Training Academy for Research in the Sciences. Funded by NSF and administered through UCSD, this program each year looks to place undergraduates from underrepresented groups into laboratory environments. The proposed instrument would provide an ideal platform for participants in this program.

Project Report

This award allowed the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) to purchase a gas source mass spectrometer (Thermo MAT 253), equipped with an automated preparation device for measuring small (<50 microgram size) carbonate samples. The samples are derived from various geological archives, including deep sea sediments, corals, sclerosponges and fossil enamel/bone. The instrument was installed in October, 2011, and it has been working steadily since that time. We developed an analytical protocol that has achieved excellent precision, even for ultra small sized samples (<20 micrograms of calcium carbonate.) This highly reproducible protocol is essential for the most discrimatory analysis of the geological archives. One example is the analysis of individual foraminifera from deep sea sediments. Approximately 5000 samples have been analyzed since installation. Thus far, the instrument has supported the research of six graduate students, whose research depends completely on the analyses from this instrument. Four PhD students are from SIO and two master students are from San Diego State University (SDSU). No publications have yet been produced in the year since installation, but multiple conference abstracts (listed below) have been generated that will soon lead to submitted papers. The graduate students have been trained to operate the instrument and to perform light maintenance. Thus, the instrument provides a vital platform for hands-on laboratory experience (mentoring). The instrument has also supported the work of three undergraduate interns, helping to fulfill another important pedagogical objective of early exposure to research. The instrument has also enhanced collaboration across institutions (SIO and SDSU). Research supported by this award, in the form of student-authored conference abstracts includes: R.S. Gannon et al., "Imaging the 20th century tropical Indian Ocean thermocline through a novel sclerosponge archive", abstract for the 11th International Conf. on Paleoceanography, Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 2013 A. Foreman et al., "Ice age carbon dynamics of the interior Atlantic Ocean inferred from a highly resolved sedimentary depth transect." abstract for the Goldschmidt 2013 conference, Florence, Italy, August, 2013 S. Sanchez et al., "Natural variability of the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation expressed in a Clarion Island coral" abstract for the 11th International Conf. on Paleoceanography, Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 2013.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Ocean Sciences (OCE)
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Kandace Binkley
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University of California-San Diego Scripps Inst of Oceanography
La Jolla
United States
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