Monday, January 5, 2009

In and Back Out Again

Our final team member, Ross, arrived Saturday night. So, we are now a complete group of 4 from Dartmouth! Together, we've spent the past couple of days in McMurdo in our lab processing our samples.

Katie is working on a procedure called Chloroform Fumigation Extraction. For that, she is measuring the amount of carbon in the soil that is released after adding chloroform. Chloroform is a chemical that breaks open cells of living organisms (including people). So, if the carbon is released by the chloroform, it was released by the microbes living in the soil. Measuring the amount of carbon released by chloroform gives us an estimate of the microbial biomass living in the soil we are studying. Of course, Katie has to be careful not to breathe the chloroform herself. (Don't worry: when this picture was taken, she was already finished with the chloroform step!)
Elizabeth is busy picking all of the rocks out of her soil samples. The soils she is studying are very rocky, and the pebbles have to be removed before she can measure their chemistry. Doesn't that look like fun?!

We will be heading out to the field again tomorrow. We will be splitting up into two groups so that we can get more work done. Katie and Elizabeth will be going back to Lake Fryxell where we went the first week of our field work. Ross and I will be moving around all over the valley for the rest of the week. We'll be busy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~On another note~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Check out the awesome card I got in the mail yesterday, drawn by my friend Bob! Cedar waxwings like these live in the trees outside my office back at Dartmouth, so I put the card over my desk here in McMurdo to remind me of home.