Professor Richard G. Fairbanks

Columbia University | Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory | Earth and Environmental Sciences | Google Earth
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Radiocarbon Cal | Reservoir Age | ENSO | Sea Level | Isotope Tracers | Coral Biochem | Deep Water Circulation | Planktonic Foram Ecology | SSTs
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EESC W4888 | EESC W4920x | EESC W4030


Facilities, Equipment and Other Resources


Analytical facilities in the Fairbanks laboratory at Lamont-Doherty include six stable isotope ratio mass spectrometers, a VG Sector TIMS machine with multicollector and ion-counting Daly detector, and a FISONS Plasma 54. The Plasma 54 and Sector are primarily used for measuring U, Th, Pa isotope abundances for coral dating by isotope dilution. The stable isotope instruments include a Finnigan MAT-251 with Carousel-48 for carbonates, a Micromasss Prism II with a manifold, a Micromass Prism III with a Multiprep Inlet for water samples, two Fison Optimas with Multiprep Inlets for carbonates, a Finnigan Delta S with GC-combustion and continuous flow inlet system, and a VG Micromass 903 w/ a manual carbonate carousel. The lab housing these instruments has been recently renovated and equipped for strict control of temperature and humidity. Also within this space is a Class 100 clean room used for chemical preparation of corals for Th/Pa/U dating and trace element sample preparation.

The lab includes the instrumentation for supporting the mass spectrometers (filament degaser for the Sector; ovens, balances, centrifuges, three laminar flow benches, etc., for preparation of standards and spikes; salinometer for water samples), high vacuum gas extraction lines, a collection of slabbing and sectioning saws dedicated to corals, several micro-drills for coral sampling, and an X-radiography camera for coral sections. A Phillips X-ray diffractometer is available at Lamont for assuring that all analyzed corals are free of secondary calcite. In addition, a new JEOL scanning electron microscope was installed last year and our personnel are factory trained in its operation.

Other analytical instruments available for use in adjoining laboratories include a Hitachi atomic absorption spectrometer (Lex van Geen), an Excimer UV Laser Ablation system coupled to a PQ2+ Quadrupole ICP-MS and a Thermo Elemental AXIOM High Resolution ICP-MS (Rick Mortlock). Our staff is also trained for use of a Jobin-Yvon Panorama 2000 ICP-OES for measurement of trace element ratios in biogenic carbonates (Peter DeMenocal). A network of personal computers and high-speed scientific workstations provides computer support for the lab.

Our 28' Boston Whaler survey/dive boat powered by twin 225hp outboards and is equipped with onboard computers, power supplies, water pumps and sampling reels for sampling in the upper 100 meters, a Furuno precision recording depth recorder and redundant Magellan GPS are used for bathymetric surveys recorded via HyPac survey software to select appropriate sites for drilling. Where particularly detailed surveys are needed, the vessel is equipped with a Marine Sonic 600 kHz side scan sonar system for coral reef mapping and environmental surveys for offshore drilling and anchoring also interfaced to HyPac survey software. SCUBA gear for four divers is housed on the Whaler. Our 25' Zodiac RIB is used for remote island use and is presently located at Kanton Atoll in the central equatorial Pacific for reef sampling projects.

Field equipment has been designed to sample coral reefs over a range of environments, from onshore exposures to shallow modern reefs, to fossil offshore reefs at depths up to 200 meters. Our offshore wire-line drill rig is based on an Acker helicopter-transportable exploration drill. The all hydraulic drill, diesel generator, and mast may be disassembled and transported individually and fit in a single twenty foot shipping container. The drill frame, water pump, mud pump, control console, riser tensioner, drill string, riser pipe, and drill barrels and spares fill a second 20 foot shipping container. We have doubled the Acker mast height to permit two meters of vertical drill head motion. The drill and platform have been successfully used for up to 25 tons pull out force and can operate in water depths exceeding 150 meters.

The Lamont-designed diver-operated coring system has several unique features developed specifically for coral reefs: (i) The hydraulic motor is made of stainless steel, viton, and teflon allowing the use of seawater for the hydraulic fluid. This has several advantages. First, only one flexible tube is required to power the underwater drill.Standard drills use hydraulic oils that must be recycled back to the overlying boat requiring two hydraulic lines.(ii) Most drill rigs use cement mason bits for coring and require the entire barrel to be removed to collect cores in 0.5-meter lengths. The Lamont coring rig uses wire-line core barrels, permitting core retrieval without removing the outer barrel. Our wire-line coring rig flushes the drill bit with water shunted from the hydraulic motor, ensuring high quality cores and only one supply line from the dive boat. (iii) The Lamont coring rig mounts on the coral or reef substrate and can be rotated in place to core companion cores. (iv) Faster coring and higher quality duplicate or triplicate cores improves the length and quality of coral time series. (v) Smaller diameter cores are collected without breakage with this design, greatly increasing the coring speed.

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