Services & Equipment

What Do We Do in the Ice Core Lab?

Many people visit the ice core lab to run samples or to train students on our equipment (listed below), and anyone can access our services. Our only ask is that samples meet certain "clean" requirements. The ice core lab is dedicated to the running of clean polar and glacial ice and snow, and our instruments are specifically configured as such, which means we cannot run things like seawater or samples with high ion concentrations.

For more details on clean requirements (especially if you are unsure if your sample will meet the requirements), contact us by phone or email.

Contact Us for Services

Please contact Alison Criscitiello (crisciti@ualberta.ca) or Anne Myers (almyers@ualberta.ca) directly for all inquiries regarding:

  • sample submission, requirements, and costs;
  • coming to CICL to run samples with us; or
  • having students visit to train on our equipment.
Close up of Ali Criscitiello and Anne Myers examining ion chromatography data on the computers in the ice cores lab

Ali Criscitiello and Anne Myers examine ion chromatography data on the computers in the ice cores lab.


Lab Equipment

Ion Chromatography

Dionex ICS-5000+ DC

Ion chromatography (IC) is a form of liquid chromatography that measures concentrations of ionic species by separating them based on their interaction with a stationary resin. We use IC to determine trace level concentrations of major anions (CH3SO3-, Cl-, Br-, SO42-, NO3-, and PO43-) and cations (Na+, NH4+, K+, Mg2+, and Ca2+) in ice core samples.

To submit samples for ion chromatography, view our sample submission guidelines (PDF).

Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy

Picarro L2140-i Analyzer

Our Cavity Ringdown Spectrometer (CRDS) measures the absorption of light by gaseous molecules at specific wavelengths and relates this to molecule concentration in the sample. We use CRDS to determine concentrations of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes and the resulting δ18O and δ2H values in ice core samples.

To submit samples for cavity ringdown spectroscopy, view our sample submission guidelines (PDF).

Fluorescence Spectroscopy

Horiba Scientific Aqualog

In fluorescence spectroscopy, a beam passes through a cuvette holding a solution, molecules are then elevated into an excited state (higher energy state) by absorbing light from the beam passing through. When the molecule falls back into its ground state it emits the excess energy in the form of fluorescence.

A plot is created of emission against wavelength for any given excitation wavelength, yielding an emission spectrum that is characteristic of the given solution. We use the emission spectrum to analyze for and identify organic molecules in meltwater derived from ice cores.

Particle Size Analysis

Beckman Coulter Multisizer 4e Coulter Counter

The Coulter Counter uses the Coulter principle to detect particles via electrical zoning sensing, regardless of the particle’s nature or optical properties. We use particle size analysis to examine variations in size distribution and particle concentration of dust within ice cores. This is indicative of past climate fluctuations and can also give us a sense of changes in dust transport (speed and type), as well as the sources of dust.

Dark-Field Illumination Stratigraphy

Intermediate Layer Core Scanner (ILCS)

The ILCS, developed by Schäfter+Kirchhoff for polar expeditions, the components of which can withstand temperatures of -40°C, is an innovative stratigraphy scanner that uses dark-field illumination. The scanner was developed specifically for the visualization of the laminar structure of polar ice cores.

Directed Bright-Field Illumination Scanning

Large Area Scan Macroscope (LASM)

The LASM, developed by Schäfter+Kirchhoff for polar expeditions, the components of which can withstand temperatures of -40°C, is a macroscope with directed bright-field illumination. The macroscope was developed for the investigation of the microstructure of polar ice cores.


Ice Coring Field Equipment

We have an inventory of ice core drills and related field equipment available for use and collaboration! This includes: