The colors haven't started changing outside just yet, but inside Oberlin's geochemistry lab there's certainly a lot going on. This semester has been focused on leaching!A former student in the lab came up with a plan to obtain data without having to use all sorts of proxy methods and avoid getting unrealistic values. To do this we remove grain coatings from samples, increasing the accuracy of our measurements. This involves using a fair amount of HCl to completely soak the sample; after some trial runs we've concluded that a 4:1 ratio of acid to sample is the sweet spot. Our process involves soaking the sample for at least 24 hours in acid in nalgene containers which are mostly submerged in a sonic bath. This procedure is perfect for Halloween as the contents of the bottles turn a spooky orange-ish brown when they are done. After that we have to decant off the leached grain coatings from the rest of the sample, a meticulous process involving the centrifuge, De-Ionized water and lots of patience. This part is the most time-consuming overall, but once the two components are separated out its smooth sailing. Throw the container holding acid on a hot plate and let all the HCl sizzle off and put the other container holding the residue in the oven. When thats all over we should have to containers of one sample that are ready to be run through our gamma spectrometer. This is the process i've been working through alongside most of the others working in Amandas lab this semester and its been a good time so far. This half of field work isn't as glamorous as spending nearly three weeks in China but its still rewarding nonetheless. We've faced a few hurdles this semester already but overall its looking to be very data rich end of 2016.
Once the semester is over we should have a computer full of meaningful data points which will make for a much more interesting post, full of analysis and maybe even some pretty graphs
But until then this is all I've got to offer,