Development of a CSUN GeoAnalytical Center for Research, Teaching, and Outreach in Earth Systems Science

This project will create a “GeoAnalytical Center” within the Department of Geological Sciences (DGS) at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) with the goal of expanding STEM research and educational opportunities in laboratory and computational settings. The GeoAnalytical Center will consolidate existing CSUN DGS research facilities with the requested instrumentation to create an exceptional state-of-the-art analytical center that will stand out among similar institutions. The instrumentation requested in this proposal includes: (1) an isotope ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) system for C, N, O, S and H stable isotope analysis, including compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) of C and H isotopes in organic compounds, analysis of C and O isotopes in carbonates and other solids, and O and H isotopes in water; (2) an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) for analysis of metals and metal isotopes in water and geologic media; (3) an ion chromatograph for analysis of environmentally relevant ions (e.g., nutrients, perchlorate, chloride); (4 & 5) ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electrical resistivity systems for characterizing subsurface features and groundwater fluxes and distributions; and (6) a node for a high-performance computing cluster used to investigate dynamic seismicity. This equipment, combined with existing instrumentation, will both expand the breadth of the department’s analytical capabilities and advance it to the state-of-the-art. The requested instruments will allow DGS to further integrate impactful, cutting-edge research directly into the educational framework of the department, including use in courses and in student research projects. As a result, the Center will not only provide DGS students with exposure to the breadth of research conducted in the department, it will also ensure that virtually all majors and graduate students gain hands-on experience conducting real-world analytical, geophysical, and/or computational science. Such hands-on experience allows students to directly engage with scientific ideas, garnering interest in STEM fields, while simultaneously practicing skills that will prepare them to succeed in those fields. The Center will serve an interdisciplinary group of researchers including, but not limited to, the authors of this proposal. The research planned for the Center focuses on interdisciplinary studies that incorporate environmental, geological, marine science, mathematical, and computational fields. An example research area involves investigating contaminant (natural and anthropogenic) cycling in coastal watersheds in Southern California, where a uniquely broad suite of potential impacts threatens the environmental quality of aquatic systems. The objective of the work is to better understand fluxes of metals and organic compounds associated with anthropogenic sources, wildfires, legacy mining operations, and natural oil seeps, and to investigate the physical, chemical, and biological processes that impact the migration and persistence of these contaminants in watershed systems. This suite of projects directly addresses several DoD research interests including environmental chemistry (and forensics), littoral studies, and modeling of complex systems.

Project Themes:

Soil Science Sustainability Transport Phenomena Water Resource Management Analytical Chemistry Biogeochemistry Environmental Chemistry Environmental Education Environmental Engineering Environmental Health and Protection Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment Environmental Monitoring Geochemistry Geology Hydrology Natural Resources and Conservation Natural Resources Management and Policy Oil, Gas, and Energy Paleobiology

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