Just back from a two week visit to Sarah Aciego's group (GIGL) at the University of Michigan. The aim of the trip was to do geochemical analysis of my water samples which I wasn't able to do in St. Andrews. The first week was spent in the lab separating out strontium (Sr), uranium (U) and neodymium (Nd) from the other elements in the water samples. This is done using a series of columns filled with a resin which binds to the elements with varying strength. In the second week I was able to do some measurements on the TIMS (thermal ionisation mass spectrometer) for Sr and Nd isotopes. The samples for U isotope analysis will be done later at the University of Wyoming.
Why these elements? Sr and Nd will provide information on the source of the water. Different minerals and rock types will have different isotopic compositions so we can use these measurement to tell what is weathering and contributing to the stream chemical composition and how that varies over time. Sr is also useful for giving information on the snowmelt contribution to the stream waters. The U data will be used to give information on erosion processes.
Thanks to the whole GIGL group for a successful trip!