Facilities and Equipment
The Geoscience department is housed in Lansing Hall. Lansing Hall together with Eaton, Napier and Rosenberg Halls form the natural science complex. The complex sits in the center of campus just a short walk from the library, residence halls and dining facilities. Geoscience teaching labs are on the garden level; offices and research labs are on the first floor. A detailed listing of geoscience lab space is below. The department also shares a geochemical instrument laboratory with the Chemistry Department, and cold room storage with the other science departments.
- Meteorology/Climatology Lab houses computer workstations for student use during the academic year as part of independent study projects and summer research under Professor Neil Laird and Associate Professor Nick Metz. In this lab, students use meteorological software to analyze radar data, climatological surface data, digital elevation models, and large meteorological databases.
- Geochemistry/Limnology Lab contains instrumentation for the chemical analysis of water samples collected routinely from lakes and streams in the Finger Lakes region under the supervision of Professor John Halfman. The lab is equipped with refrigerators for temporary sample storage, drying oven and two UV spectrophotometers, used to measure nutrient and chlorophyll concentrations in lake and stream samples. The lab also stores portable pH/temperature/specific conductance/dissolved oxygen probes, Hach titration kits, a Marsh-McBirney flow meters, and ISCO stream sampler are used to make field measurements.
- Geochemistry/Sedimentology/Paleoclimatology Lab is a wet/dry lab equipped for the routine investigation of water, sediment, and rock overseen by Associate Professors Tara Curtin and Dave Finkelstein. There is ample lab bench space for sample preparation in ductless or chemical fume hoods for wet chemistry work. The inner analytical lab room houses the elemental analyzer, laser particle size analyzer (requires a continual supply of DI water to operate), cavity ring-down spectrometer, and a microbalance.
- Paleobiology/Earth History Lab houses paleontological specimens, sample preparation materials, imaging and measuring equipment, and computers and specialized software for data analysis. Large specimen cases house fossils under current study. Microscopes include a transmitted light phase-contrast Leica microscope for viewing microscopic subjects and a boom-mounted binocular Leica microscope for viewing macroscopic specimens. A digital camera system links directly from the microscopes to computer for image capture, manipulation, and analysis. The lab is shared by Professor Nan Crystal Arens and Associate Professor David Kendrick.
- Palynology Lab features a fume hood rated for hydrofluoric acid (HF) use to extract pollen, spores, and other organic material from rock samples by Professor Nan Crystal Arens and her research students. They use mechanical and chemical methods to break down the rock matrix to extract the pollen using the rock preparation room or the paleontology lab and then the centrifuges and HF treatments in the fume hood in the palynology lab.
- Rock Preparation Lab is used in both teaching and student-faculty research. Several courses routinely use the diamond-edged rock saw, trim saw, polisher/grinder unit, sieve sets, jaw crusher, and SPEX sample mill/pulverizer. The lab also contains a McCrone micronizing mill to prepare samples for whole rock powder X-ray diffraction.
- X-Ray Diffractometer Lab is located in the basement of Lansing and overseen by A Curtin. It houses an X-ray diffractometer and is used for teaching and research that investigates the structure and composition of minerals and rocks.
The William Scandling
The Colleges steel heeled, 65 ft., research vessel has access to various lakes including Seneca, Cayuga & Ontario for student and faculty classroom and research activities. The William Scandling is used regularly by introductory and upper-level courses offered by Geoscience faculty. The boat is fully equipped for sediment, water, and biota studies. This equipment includes a stereomicroscope, a binocular microscope with camera, and CTDs for determining temperature, salinity, chlorophyll concentration, transparency, pH, and dissolved oxygen content of the water column. Sediment sampling gear includes a ponar dredge and various gravity and piston corers. Additional instrumentation deployed using the research vessel includes high resolution seismic profiling and side scan sonar equipment, along with sediment traps, acoustic Doppler current profilers, and sediment traps.
A converted stock pontoon boat has become a capable research platform that can be towed overland and launched from a typical boat ramp. The vessel, JB Snow, is a complement to the Colleges’ 65-foot research vessel The William Scandling. The JB Snow has the ability to collect limnological data, detailed bathymetric data, sediment samples and deploy and/or tow geophysical and other remote sensing equipment.
Seneca Lake Data Buoy
An automated buoy is maintained in Seneca Lake at a mid-lake location offshore of Clark’s Point (Latitude: 42° 49.13′, Longitude: 76° 57.61′) with a water depth of 60 meters. The YSI EMM-2500 Buoy Platform has cellular modem communications and includes meteorological sensors to measure wind speed & direction, dewpoint temperature, air temperature, barometric pressure, and solar radiation. The buoy platform also includes a water quality profiler to measure depth, temperature, conductivity, turbidity and chlorophyll-a. The most recent and archived measurements from the buoy are available here.
The Finger Lakes Institute
The Finger Lakes Institute (FLI) at Hobart and William Smith Colleges is dedicated to the promotion of environmental research about the Finger Lakes and surrounding environments. The institute, located on campus, offers a variety of programs each semester. To learn more about the variety of ways students integrate FLI into their educational programs, visit the FLI’s website.