Facilities

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is housed in the Olin Hall, nestled on a wooded hillside on the western edge of the Homewood campus. Its facilities include instrumentation, a departmental library, and modern computer equipment. There are laboratories for experimental petrology, crystallography, evolutionary biology/ecology, and fluid and solid mechanics.

A JEOL 8600 electron microprobe in Olin Hall is available to all members of the department. The building provides both in-house computational capabilities and access to computer clusters elsewhere on campus. Olin Hall also contains equipment for modern petrographic work (including a computer-controlled Buehler image analysis system), and a laboratory for sectioning rocks. There is also a substantial collection of rocks, minerals, and fossils. Facilities are available for a wide spectrum of fluid mechanical experiments, including thermal convection and solidification.

Facilities for mineralogy and crystallography include two transmission electron microscopes (TEMs) and modern specimen preparation laboratories. The transmission electron microscopy laboratory houses instruments capable of both high-resolution imaging at the atomic cluster scale and X-ray microanalysis of areas a few tens of nanometers in diameter. Campus facilities include instruments for single-crystal, X-ray diffraction, and focused ion-beam milling (FIB) for site-specific, TEM sample preparation at the nanometer scale.

The stable isotope laboratory includes a Thermo MAT 253 mass spectrometer equipped with eight Faraday channels for measurement of singly and multiply substituted gas isotopologues. Peripheral equipment includes offline vacuum extraction lines, a Thermo TraceUltra gas chromatograph with FID and TCD detectors, and a custom-built common acid bath device for analysis of carbon, oxygen, and “clumped” isotopes in carbonates and bioapatites.

The soil ecology lab is equipped with two large Percival incubators for controlled laboratory experiments. Field and laboratory facilities at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center and the USDA Beltsville Agricultural Research Center are available for collaborative research. The soil sensor lab is equipped with a weather station, many CO2 sensors, and tools and computer facilities to assemble and test custom electronics in-house. Testbeds for sensor deployment include the JHU campus and the urban AmeriFlux tower in north Baltimore.

The department contains several computer laboratories containing clusters of workstations and personal computers, together with printers and scanners. These computers are used for numerical simulations, graphics applications, data manipulation, and word processing.

Field studies and excursions form an integral part of the program of instruction and research in geology and are closely integrated with the laboratory and course work. Situated at the fall line between the Coastal Plain and the Piedmont and only an hour’s ride from the Blue Ridge and Appalachians, Baltimore is an excellent location for a department with a field-oriented program in geology. The department has a permanent field station for geological research, Camp Singewald, in the Bear Pond Mountains of Washington County, Maryland, and a vehicle for field use.

Supporting facilities on campus include the Milton S. Eisenhower Library, the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the High-Performance Computing Center. In addition, the facilities of the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, Smithsonian Institution, and the Geophysical Laboratory and the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington are available by special arrangement for students qualified to use them. Some students work closely with researchers and facilities at the nearby NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.