Facilities & Equipment

The field and lab facilities of the Coastal Geology group integrate fully into the broader facilities of the VIMS Department of Physical Science, such as the sediment coring, sampling and analysis facilities of Steve Kuehl’s Sediment Geochronology & Seabed Processes Lab, and Liz Canuel’s Organic Geochemistry Lab. However, we do have some toys we call our own!: 

A. Fallon (driving) pulling the VIMS Coastal Geology Mala X3M GPR with a 100 MHz antenna across the Plum Island Airport runway. Photo credit: L. Polido.
Ground-Penetrating Radar (GPR) - this MALÅ Geosciences X3M GPR has 100, 250 and 500 MHz antennas capable of collecting continuous, high-resolution subsurface surveys ranging from centimeter-scale resolution in the upper 3-4 m, to decimeter-scale resolution nearly 20 m below the ground surface. A suite of software (RADAN [GSSI, Inc.], RadExplorer [MALÅ Geosciences], and Kingdom Suite [Seismic Micro Technology]) is available in the Coastal Geology Data Processing Lab for the processing and analysis of these data. We have previously used a similar unit to map barrier architecture, beach-ridge and strandplain development, event markers (storm erosion) and paleo-inlets.

C. Hein (L) and Andy Fallon (R) using the VIMS Geoprobe 66DT direct-push machine to core through the backbarrier sequence of Plum Island, MA to investigate variations in sediment source with time. Photo credit: L. Polido

Direct-Push Drill Rig – This Geoprobe 6610 DT Technical Drilling Machine is built like a tank but serves a much more benign purpose – it uses percussion and hydraulics to collect up to 20 m of continuous sediment cores. Ideal for coring through coastal barriers and beaches, a similar drill rig allowed us to core continuously through the 16-m thick Plum Island barrier / backbarrier sequence and into underlying glaciomarine (Pleistocene) deposits. Though we're still working on the logistics (and funding!) to bring this rig with us to Brazil, it will serve as a cornerstone of our US-based field projects. The same tooling, minus the rig itself, can also be used for shallower (2-4 m) continuous coring at any site where transport of the rig is prohibitive. 

Coastal Geology Data Processing Lab – Designed as the primary workspace of the group, this lab houses most field equipment, several workstations for the processing of GIS and GPR data, maps, and meeting space. Future upgrades include a digital whiteboard.

Compound-Specific Radiocarbon Lab – Our own little space in Chesapeake Bay Hall, this lab will serve in the isolation, purification and combustion of individual organic compounds for compound-specific radiocarbon analysis. The space houses a GERSTEL Gas Chromatograph with a Preparative Fraction Collector (a “Prep GC”) and a laminar-flow hood. Construction on a vacuum line will commence later this summer. Although not the type of lab typically affiliated with coastal sedimentologists, this lab is one of a small handful in academic settings in the world and allows us to apply the cutting-edge tools of compound-specific organic geochemistry to understand the linkages between climate change and coastal sediment supply.