Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Hydrology and Geochemistry at Teller Field Site

Members of the NGEE Arctic team from Los Alamos National Laboratory have played a major role in areas of hydrology and geochemistry. Their expertise, both in the field and laboratory, is complemented by others at UAF and ORNL. As a result we have gotten off to a quick start with research at our Teller field site beginning this winter with snow ablation and snowmelt measurements, and surface and pore water sampling earlier this spring.

This week Brent, Jeff, Carli, and Lauren are working at the Teller field site to collect additional surface and pore water samples. This site has an interesting pattern of surface and subsurface hydrology due, we believe, to the interaction between permafrost and bedrock. We are investigating these patterns by analyzing water samples for geochemistry. A range of anions and cations present in the samples can be analyzed quite precisely, along with measurements of the isotopic composition of water and its constituents.

Today LANL researchers transported and installed three Teledyne Isco portable water samplers at the field site. Transporting the samplers to the field was the first challenge. Although the loads were bulky, thankfully they were light. Once they were strapped to a backpack frame they could be carried to the field and deployed along a stream that runs the length of the watershed. Isco samplers, powered by 12-volt marine batteries, automatically collect water samples over time. Collection amounts and timing of sampling can be programmed via a keypad and controller. Scientists will revisit the samplers throughout the summer, taking water samples back to their home institutions for analysis.