An ode to my week of science

Sorry for the lack of entries the past few weeks!  After the day with the penguins, my life sadly turned into 24-7 lab work.  I was running 3 different machines which are all located in different labs in the Crary science building in McMurdo, so I actually spent quite a while running from lab to lab.

In honor of my week of science, this entry will be about the last few things I did in McMurdo before heading out to the Field camp at Lake Frxyell!

So the main thing I have been working on is a technique to isolate dissolved organic matter (DOM).    In order to isolate the DOM, I am using a technique called Solid Phase Extraction.  The cartridges contain a solid material (the composition of which depends on what fraction you are targeting for extraction) which supposedly bonds strongly to particular compound classes.  One common type of solid phase extraction cartridge, is composed of carbon chains that are 18 carbon atoms long and thus is suitably known as a C-18 cartridge.  The carbon chains attach to the hydrophobic compounds retaining them on the cartridge.  Humic materials are commonly colored, which allows you to see to see a dark band forming as the compounds collect.  The collumn is then eluted with an organic solvent (usually methanol), which captures the DOM and pulls it out of the collumn.  This is actually pretty fun to watch since you can actually watch the colored band move down through the colllumn.  As my organic geochemistry teacher used to say, it is "Science in Action!"

Since we are dealing with glacial waters, there is extremely low concentrations of everything in the water and I have to pass almost 20 L of water (at a flow rate of ~20 mL/min) through the cartridge get any significant amount of DOM returned (you do the math on time!).  Thus, the elution of the DOM is quite an exciting event and much photo-worthy.

 My Collumn after 22 hours of pushing glacial meltwaters through -- look at the band of color!

The beginning of the methanol extraction...

Almost through ...

 Here it comes!!

Meanwhile, I washed literally 100 glass amber bottles for the return of the rest of my group to McMurdo...

Last week I also started to pack up for my venture out to the field camp at Lake Frxyell!  I started transporting everything down to the helo hanger.  The helicopter group uses these carts to organize different groups gear and get it out onto the helo pad.  They are all individually decorated with different themes and designs.  I just saw this one the other day and thought it was pretty appropriate ;-)

Posted on December 18, 2010 .