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USGS CMG Menlo Park Geochemical Labs

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Menlo Park:
Main Campus  (  Bldg. 2 - 1st floor Bldg. 2 - 2nd floor Bldg. 15 - 1st floor Bldg. 15 - 3rd floor  )
O'Brien St.  (  1020 O'Brien 1030 O'Brien 1040 O'Brien 1050 O'Brien  )

Room Geochemistry Complex
Location M3043, M3043A, M3047, M3051, M3051A, M3263, M3267
Size 2439 sq. ft.
Contact Keith Kvenvolden
Description Multi-lab complex examining aspects of environmental, organic, and inorganic geochemistry.

Results are useful for determining levels of environmental contaminants (hydrocarbons, trace metals, and permanent gases).

Biomarkers are useful for characterizing and fingerprinting oils and sedments thus providing information on their sources and subsequent history.

Dating of geologic materials fixes them in time and helps correlate geologic events.

Experimental results are integrated with field observations to model geologic processes.

High sensitivity Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer (GC/MS) for determining low levels of environmental contaminants and biomarkers in sediments and oils.

Older Gas Chromatograph/Mass Spectrometer for routine determinations of biomarkers.

A variety of gas chromatographs for determining hydrocarbons and permanent gases in water, sediment and environmental samples.

Microwave Extraction System for the simultaneous extraction of organics from multiple sediment samples.

Zymark Solvent evaporation system allows simultaneous nitrogen blowdown of multiple samples.

Experimental capability to react rocks and fluids, in both fixed and flexible inert cells, over a wide range of geologic conditions and monitor these reactions with time.

Alpha spectrometers for dating various geologic materials using the U-decay scheme.

Atomic Absorption Spectrometer for the determination of dissolved components in fluids.

Hydrogen, Air, and Nitrogen generators for the GC/MS's and evaporators to eliminate the need for these as bottled gasses.

Anticipated purchase of CHNS analyzer for the determination of total carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and sulfur in environmental samples.


A complex of geochemical laboratories supports a wide variety of projects within the Geologic Divisionšs Coastal and Marine Geology Team and also the Water Resources Division. The approach is multidisciplinary, combining separate organic, inorganic, and experimental laboratories, each with unique analytical capabilities, in order to provide an integrated approach to solving geologic problems.

Ongoing investigations include environmental studies primarily in the Monterey Bay Sanctuary and also in the Sonoma Wetlands, Prince William Sound, the Los Angeles Shelf, and the Eel River Basin. Other research activities involve the study of marine and terrestrial natural gas seeps and the nature and extent of gas hydrates, their resource and hazard potential, and their role as an agent in global climate change. A preliminary experimental study is focusing on the kinetics and equilibration of reactions among organic components and gas species to produce hydrothermal petroleum and to evaluate its resource potential. Additionally, a study is underway to investigate the process of forming sedimentary pyrite on the Hawaii shelf.

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Page Last Modified: Mon Nov 4 03:37:50 PST 2013  (chd)