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Techniques

Physical Techniques & Protocols

Laser Particle Size Analysis – This technique is carried out in the Malvern Room with the use of a Malvern Mastersizer 3000; a laser particle sizer used to measure the particle size distribution of soils and sediments. It allows for the measurement of particles ranging from 0.02µm to 3mm.

Loss-on-ignition – This technique may be used to measure %water, bulk density, % charcoal, %organic, % calcium carbonate and % silicate residue in a variety of soils and sediments. The 105°C oven is used to dry the samples, while the muffle furnace is employed at 400°C, 480°C, 550°C and 950°C to remove organic matter and break down carbonate respectively. Electronic balances (2 and 3 dp) are routinely used to determine the loss in mass at various stages of the analysis. However, analytical balances are available for work with very small samples.

Analytical balances The laboratories has one extremely accurate balance (4 dp), which reads down to ten thousandths of a gram. It is connected to a personal computer, and can download data directly onto Excel spreadsheets. This brings the advantages of speed, accuracy, precision, and the ability to handle a large volume of data.

Hydraulics – The Soils and Sediments Laboratory houses an Armfield Engineering Tilting Flume which is used to simulate the flow dynamics of rivers. The gradient, discharge, depth and bed type can all be varied with relative ease. The flume also has a wave generator, which can produce pulses of varying frequency and amplitude to mimic lacustrine and shallow marine conditions.