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Browse and learn more about the several active laboratories at CCI.
The Analog Modeling Lab in the Department of Earth Sciences has been designed as a resource for teaching and research. Analog modeling can give us qualitative and quantitative insights into boundary conditions and material behavior. The experiments allow us to investigate the individual effects of different parameters or geological processes. Analog materials are weak enough to deform rapidly under laboratory conditions and they have rheologies which are scalable to Earth systems. Several analog materials and model approaches exist. Brittle behavior in rocks is modeled by granular materials (such as sand), which deforms in a way described by a pressure-dependent, elastic-plastic constitutive relationship. The viscous behavior of rocks is simulated by viscous materials such as silicone putty, honey and glucose syrup. The rheology of these materials is commonly temperature dependent and can be described by a power law constitutive relationship. Plastic material, such as plasticine and wax are also used to model rock deformation.
The Computer Science research activities span many fields and departments, both on and off campus. Current research collaborations on campus include the Chemistry, Earth Sciences, and Electrical & Computer Engineering departments, and the Climate Change Institute.
Research activities are organized around the following laboratories. Please consult the labs' Web sites for additional information.
The Diatom Ecology Laboratory focuses on reconstructing environmental change through the use of freshwater diatom fossil records. Experimental and observational studies of modern lake ecology are integrated with paleolimnological records to understand ecosystem change. Facilities include inverted and compound microscopes with imaging capabilities, as well as growth chambers for culturing diatoms. Research primarily focuses on ecosystem change over time scales ranging from the last decade to the last 2,000 years.
The Forensic Anthropology Laboratory is the center for conducting research on human osteology, bioarchaeology, forensics, and taphonomy. The lab is also the focal point for training undergraduate and graduate students in the major methods and techniques used in forensics. Research and training is designed to prepare students in the analysis human remains in forensic, modern, and prehistoric situations with a particular eye toward taphonomic assessment. The forensic laboratory contains an extensive comparative human skeletal collection representing individuals from fetal to older adult as well as males and females. The lab is currently being developed and will be equipped with the necessary tools with which to conduct modern forensic analyses.
Core analysis, mineral separation, radiocarbon sample preparation, diatom analysis
The laboratory is the focus for studying the impact of volcanic eruptions on Earth’s climate system. In particular our research involves work with microparticles of dust and tephra in ice samples extracted from ice cores. Lab equipment includes centrifuges and a Olympus BX40 microscope.
James Fastook designed and maintains the University of Maine Ice Sheet Model (UMISM). UMISM participated in the EISMINT experiments for model intercomparison and is recognized as an important tool for study of both current and paleo ice sheets. Current problems include: reconstructing Northern Hemisphere ice sheets over North America, Europe, and Asia; addressing the changing volume of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets in response to recent climate change; investigations of rock glacier behavior in the Dry Valleys; and most recently, simulations of Martian glaciers and ice sheets. UMISM consists of a time-dependent finite-element solution of the coupled mass, momentum, and energy conservation equations. The model works in the map-plane, with the primary input consisting of the present bedrock topography, the surface mean annual temperature, the geothermal heat flux, and the net mass balance, all defined as a functions of position. The solution consists of ice thicknesses, surface elevations, column-integrated ice velocities, the temperature field within the ice sheet, the amount of water at the bed resulting from basal melting, and the amount of bed depression resulting from the ice load. A complete suite of tools for accessing digital maps (DEMS) for input to the model, as well as post-processing tools for analysis, presentation graphics, and animations are also maintained.
ICP-MS Laboratory was set up through a grant from the NSF Major Research Instrumentation program. The ICP-MS laboratory provides elemental and isotopic analysis capabilities to researchers within and outside the University of Maine. The laboratory is equipped with a Thermo ELEMENT2 high resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer, and associated peripherals for sample introduction. The primary focus of the laboratory is the determination of ultra-trace levels of elements in ice cores. The laboratory has also supported projects involving the analysis of plant and biological tissue, sediments, ground water, and seawater.
The Ion Chromotography/Glaciochemistry Lab specializes in analyzing ice core and snow samples at the parts-per-billion level for all major cations and anions. Housed in the Sawyer Environmental Research Center, the IC Lab is primarily a facility of the Climate Change Institute, and serves the research needs of the Institute faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students. The primary equipment comprises Dionex DX-500 chromatographs fitted with suppressed conductivity detectors and Gilson Autosamplers.
Clean room for geochemistry, including cosmogenic and U/Th sample preparation
This new facility combines trace element analysis using an ICP-MS with a laser ablation sample introduction system yielding greatly enhanced sample resolution, laboratory efficiency, and examination of even more exotic chemical signatures. The finest sampling resolution for ice cores has been limited to approximately 1 cm. It is now 10 microns allowing the potential for the first time to sample: individual storm events, and recovery of sub-annual signals from regions with very low accumulation rates such as interior Antarctica, in highly compressed ice at great depths, and in regions of ascending flow (blue-ice exposures) in Antarctica and Greenland. Calibration tests are ongoing as is development of a system to increase sample throughput.
The Latin American Archaeology Lab is dedicated to the investigation of the human past among Mesoamerican and Andean South American societies. This includes, but is not limited to, pre-European complex civilizations of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile; the impact of European colonization on indigenous populations; and the manners in which human societies past and present manipulate their physical surroundings, and the impact of their 'legacies' in contemporary landscapes of Latin America.
Core sectioning and subsampling; photography; sediment analyses (settling tube, sieves, X-ray Sedigraph, pipetting); binocular microscopy; centrifuging, weighing, drying, loss on ignition, carbonates
Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR); Total Station surveying; autolevel; GPS navigation
The Northeastern Prehistory Lab in South Stevens Hall is the center of research and analysis of archaeological remains from prehistoric Maine and the Maritimes. Research on materials excavated more recently are compared with remains recovered in the past to develop broad-based ideas on the prehistory of Maine and the Northeast, and how these people lived and interacted with each other and with surrounding groups. The lab is one of three Federal Repositories of Archaeological material in Maine, and contains extensive collections developed by a number of researchers for over four decades.
Our research group applies continuum mechanics to understanding the interaction of the earth and atmosphere at many different time scales. We link individuals with research interests ranging from short term climatic variation to mantle:crust interaction. We have been investigating the influence of atmospheric processes on the development of mountain ranges from the scales of the entire mountain range to that of single large river catchments like that of the Indus or the Tsangpo. We employ geodetic, seismic, geomorphic, and petrological techniques to develop an integrated image of a developing mountain system. To produce some understanding of the behavior of the deeper parts of the earth, often not exposed during the active phase of mountain building, we work closely with petrologists and structural geologists looking at the exposed roots of the mountains. The image assembled from these observations then provides many of the constraints for constructing a comprehensive numerical model that allows us to examine the dynamics of the mountain building processes across many scales. The Numerical Laboratory is a computational cluster for 3D thermomechanical, dynamic modeling and visualization of silicate earth, atmosphere and glacier interaction.
The Paleoecology Research Laboratory (PeRL) provides the foundation for research about the ecological history and prehistory of our study regions. Sedimentary depositions and plant and animal remains provide evidence about the vegetation, climate, and lake levels. Our research sites include New England, Florida, Scotland, Sweden, Poland, the Czech Republic, Antarctica, New Zealand and Chile.
The Remote Sensing Laboratory supports a range of geospatial research projects in the Institute. A dedicated Unix cluster is available for advanced image processing and GIS applications. Ten dual-frequency GPS receivers offer the capability for geodetic positioning in the field. On-campus users interested in using RSL resources should contact Gordon Hamilton.
The South American Archaeology Lab in South Stevens Hall constitutes the primary work space for a growing team of researchers investigating the quaternary and human prehistory of South America. The lab contains two computers (Mac and PC), Geographic Information System software, flatbed photo and slide scanners, a printer, two microscopes, an extensive library of archaeological and quaternary science books and journals, and an archive of South American maps and air photos. The lab also houses a robust malacological reference collection and selected archaeological materials from UMaine excavations on loan from Peru. Aside from regular research functions, the lab is used for the preparation of archaeological materials for rock provenance studies, prehistoric artifact analyses, and archival preparation.
The Stable Isotope Lab specializes in the measurement and interpretation of the light stable isotopic ratios of environmentally relevant elements (hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur). Housed in the Sawyer Environmental Research Center, the SIL is primarily a facility of the Climate Change Institute, and serves the research needs of the Institute faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate students. SIL staff actively collaborate with researchers within and outside the University of Maine, principally those interested in climate and hydrological dynamics, paleoclimate, environmental geochemistry, and modern/paleocological studies. Currently, the SIL operates three gas-source mass spectrometers with various peripheral devices for the analysis of inorganic and organic materials, and includes facilities for fieldwork staging, sample preparation, data reduction, and data analysis. Research opportunities are available in several globally distributed projects related to isotope geochemistry, and interested students are encouraged to contact us.
The zooarchaeology laboratory is the center for training undergraduate and graduate students in the major methods and techniques used in archaeological faunal analysis. Research and training is designed to prepare students in the analysis of animal remains associated with archaeological sites, and from these analyses infer behavioral patterns of the inhabitants, understand their adaptations to the environments in which they lived, and reconstruct past environments. The zooarchaeology laboratory contains an extensive modern comparative skeletal collection of Northeastern and Southwestern fauna. The lab is equipped with the necessary tools with which to conduct faunal research, including a fume hood, Nikon microscopes, computers and space for analysis and storage.