Learn about the active laboratories that are accessible to CCI researchers at the University of Maine. For more information on a specific facility, contact the identified faculty.
We thank and acknowledge those that support CCI research. These facilities would not be possible without continued support from the University of Maine, the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and private donations.
Diatom Ecology Laboratory
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.
Forensic Anthropology Laboratory
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.
Glacial Geology and Geochronology Laboratory
Core analysis, mineral separation, radiocarbon sample preparation, diatom analysis
Ice Sheet Modeling Laboratory
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.
Latin American Archaeology Laboratory
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.
MAGIC Laboratory (MicroAnalytical Geochemistry and Isotope Centre)
The MAGIC lab houses an ESI NWR193 nm excimer laser ablation system coupled with an Agilent 8900 triple quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-QQQ-MS). This recently installed system will soon be used to analyze trace elements and isotopes in a variety of solid materials, from rocks to forams. The MAGIC lab is a collaboration between SECS faculty and the Climate Change Institute.
Marine Sediments Laboratory
Core sectioning and subsampling; photography; sediment analyses (settling tube, sieves, X-ray Sedigraph, pipetting); binocular microscopy; centrifuging, weighing, drying, loss on ignition, carbonates
Northeastern Prehistory Laboratory
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.
The lab contains an extensive collection of prehistoric Northeastern artifacts spanning the temporal range from 12,000 years ago up to the more historic present. The lab has storage space, analysis space, a wet lab, flint knapping room, and a dark room.
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.
Laboratory for Paleoecology and Paleohydrology
The Laboratory for Paleoecology and Paleohydrology facilities provide support for research about the ecological prehistory of terrestrial and aquatic environments. We support work in lake, peat and bog records, cave deposits, asphaltic sediments, and archaeological sites to reconstruct past climates, paleovegetation, fire, vertebrate animals, and human impacts. Our proxy-based research involves fossil pollen and spores, plant and animal macrofossils, phytoliths, diatoms, chironimids, and charcoal, with further capability to prepare specimens for radiocarbon, geochemical, or isotope analyses. Laboratory facilities include 1) the Fossil and Sediment lab, for sediment description and preparation, charcoal analysis, and fossil identification and preparation (including muffle furnace, drying oven, bench space, stereomicroscopes, and a sink with sediment trap), 2) a Palynology Chemistry lab for chemical isolation of fossil pollen (including a fume hood rated for HF, centrifuge, and basic wet chemistry lab equipment), and 3) a Microscopy Lab with new compound and stereomicroscopes with camera attachments, and extensive pollen and plant macrofossil reference collections. We also have equipment for piston- and Russian-based sediment coring from ice, water, or terrestrial environments, and extensive walk-in cold storage.
We conduct research around the world, with ongoing projects in New England, the Falkland Islands, the La Brea tar pits, Wind Cave National Park, Jamaica, the Midwestern United States, the Arctic, and Peru.
Cold storage and continuous melter system:
We have one dedicated -20ºC ice core processing freezer equipped with clean room enclosure for clean sample preparation. Ice and snow sampling equipment including: electromechanical and manual ice drills, specialized sampling tools, and specialized processing tools (lathes, scrapers and continuous melting systems). We maintain -30ºC temperature in the long term ice storage unit section of the freezer. Recently, the ice core continuous melter system was equipped with advanced depth encoding and software control for accurate parcel tracking during ice core sampling.
South American Archaeology Laboratory
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.
Stable Isotope Laboratory
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: Two Picarro L-2130-i laser cavity ring-down spectrometers for analysis of 18O (0.1‰ precision) and D (0.1‰ precision) of water. 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 past lifeways, paleo-environments, and prehistoric human adaptations. 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.
Ion Chromatography and Glaciochemistry Laboratory
The Ion Chromatography Lab specializes in analyzing ice core, snow and water 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 the Thermo Scientific™ Dionex™ Ion Chromatograph ICS-6000 analytical system fitted with suppressed conductivity detectors and Dionex AS-HV autosampler.
Analog Modeling Laboratory
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.
Ice Core Microparticle and Tephrochronology Laboratory
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.
The sample preparation section of the lab is enclosed inside of a class 100 room. The lab is equipped with a Centrific Model 228 centrifuge, microscope slide preparation equipment, petrographic Olympus BX-40 microscope, Nikon SMZ-800 zoom stereomicroscope, SPOT Insight 11.2 Color Mosaic digital camera operated with SPOT, Image-Pro plus, ImageJ, Matlab Image Processing Toolbox software. Custom made sample preparation equipment is designed using open source OpenSCAD, 3D printing Slic3r and Cura packages. Sensors and equipment are controlled by open source Arduino and Raspberry Pi microcontrollers and computers.
Laboratory members collaborate with the School of Earth and Climate Sciences (SECS), University of Maine Electron beam facility, managed by Dr. Martin Yates, who has 25+ years of experience with electron microscopy and Dr. Christopher Gerbi.
SECS electron beam laboratory comprises two major platforms – an electron microprobe and a scanning electron microscope – plus all necessary preparation equipment.
The custom designed electron microprobe laboratory houses a fully automated Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe equipped with 4 dual, large-area crystal spectrometers, a 4-crystal light element spectrometer, and a Rontec energy dispersive spectrometer. The SX-100 is capable of stage-scan and beam-scan, backscattered electron, secondary electron, and cathodoluminescence images and can simultaneously capture up to 13 x-ray compositional channels. The system is specially equipped with a dry high vacuum system and an anticontamination gas-stream/cold plate system necessary for long-duration minor element determinations. The system is operated with Cameca PC-based automation and data reduction software using PAP matrix corrections.
The scanning electron microscope (SEM) is a Tescan Vega-II XMU variable pressure instrument with a tungsten filament, 5-axis compucentric stage, resolution better than 5 nm, and secondary and backscattered electron detectors appropriate for the different vacuum conditions. Coupled to the electron microscope is an EDAX Pegasus integrated energy-dispersive spectrometry (EDS) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) system, as well as Gatan ChromaCL full color and Tescan panchromatic cathodoluminescence (CL) imaging systems. EDS hardware includes a 40mm2 silicon drift detector and a tilting SEM interface, allowing analysis at a range of working distances. EDS software allows mapping, standardless or standardized point chemistry analysis, feature mapping and characterization, and automated phase identification. EBSD hardware includes the Digiview IV camera with forward scatter detector. EBSD software includes acquisition, indexing, and post-processing components. Post-processing software produces orientation maps and pole figures, among other output, of the full data set and subsets. The SEM has a Peltier-cooled stage with a transfer module that carries snow and ice samples from the preparation room and mounts on the cooling stage with no contact with ambient air. When the SEM is at vacuum, the transfer module opens for analysis.
Sawyer Water Research Laboratory (SWRL)
The Sawyer Water Research Laboratory (SWRL) at the University of Maine provides analytical services for chemistry of water, aquatic sediments, and aquatic organisms.
W.M. Keck Laser Ice Facility
Funded through the W.M. Keck Foundation, an additional Thermo ELEMENT2 ICP-MS was installed in 2009 specifically tuned for ice core analysis. A custom designed and manufactured laser ablation peripheral is being developed, which utilizes meter-long sections of ice core contained in a movable cryochamber mounted under a fixed, small area ablation chamber (New Wave UP-213 nm laser).
Funded through a NSF MRI award, the UMaine ICP-MS Facility operates a Thermo ELEMENT2 high-resolution ICP-MS for the elemental and isotopic analysis of a wide range of geologic and environmental materials. The ICP-MS Facility Manager, Michael Handley, has over 20 years experience with ICP technology, and is responsible for assisting with all sample preparation and analysis needs. The ICP-MS Facility includes clean and cold clean room sample and standard preparation space, and all related sample preparation equipment.
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.
Computer Science Laboratories
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.
- Artificial Intelligence: multiagent systems, intelligent agent control, interagent communication, and computational ecology.
- Cybersecurity and Homeland Security.
- Databases Laboratory: autonomous and semistructured databases
- High-Performance Computing
- Software Engineering: computational modeling, learning tools and environments for K-12.