Friday, February 17, 2012

Soil Digestion Time

I know, it's been extremely too long since we've blogged! Since the field work is over, we've been spending some quality time in the lab working on the data. I thought it would be nice to post what I've been working on for the past few weeks and that is soil digestions. In this process, you add concentrated acids (nitric and hydrochloric acid) as well as 30% hydrogen peroxide (yup, just like you use on cuts, but in a much higher concentration) to extract different elements from the soil. Oh, and if that's not bad enough, you have to heat up these acids to 95 degrees C. No worries, proper PPE is always worn. Here are some pictures of the final product:

Volumetric flasks with concentrated acids that contain elements of interest

The tubes for the digestions are quite large

When the digests are finished, the soil looks extremely different from when you started. 

Soil before digestion

Soil after digestion

As you can see, you pretty much just end up with ultra pure sand in the end and all of the organic matter has been extracted from the soil. Well, that does it for now. I hope enjoyed the post, and if you have any questions, please feel free to post a comment!