|Liam and Grace in the Stable Isotope Facility|
For me the week has been mind-blowing and so technical - working with mass spectrometers and vacuums! Scientific equipment that I have never even seen before, this made the week even more intriguing for me as I have been doing things that I have never ever dreamt of! To begin with myself and Liam (another student on work experience) kick-started the week with vacuum extractions of soil samples, whilst using liquid nitrogen! Wow! I felt like a real life scientist, working with intriguing gases and chemicals. On Tuesday I was given the job of micro-carbonate preparation. This entailed weighing micrograms (very very small amounts) of sample material and carefully putting the sample into tiny vials that were to be later put into the mass spectrometer where their isotopes would be measured.
|Grace working on a vacuum line which extracts and |
collects gases for analysis
Lastly but not least, on Friday we did a follow up on the data produced from our carbonate samples the day before. The samples we analysed were from a sediment core of a Loch, which had experienced periods with an inflow of marine water from the sea. Our data depicted a distinct difference in samples from those of freshwater and those from a marine environment from different periods of time. The change in the environment becoming more marine suggests that the change must be due to a sea level change (melting ice caps and glaciers that result in an increase in sea level) leading to marine water being able to reach the freshwater environment. Evidence of climate change, and the planet heating up!
Overall, I have had a fantastic week that has opened my eyes to geochemistry and how the scientific analysis is so important into determining past climates. I would to like to say a huge thankyou to all of the staff for all the help, time and effort you have put into making my work experience so useful: Chris Kendrick, Jack Lacey, Carol Arrowsmith, Andi Smith and Melanie Leng.
Grace Nicholls and her fellow student Liam Curtis are sixth form student at Rushcliffe School.