The Rahr Lab was established in 1991 in the Department of Geography as a facility specializing in the analysis and display of geographically referenced data. As a public lab -- accessible to the Dartmouth community, and available for use in support of teaching cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS) courses -- the Rahr Lab experiences heavy use throughout the academic year both from students and faculty/staff.
Currently, the lab is outfitted with 26 machines dedicated to GIS. Also available are a wide-format HP inkjet plotter, a flatbed scanner, and a Greenprint public printer. Departmental facilities include a high-capacity fileserver which is available to students for storage of mapping and GIS projects.
Software currently on the Rahr Lab machines includes ArcGIS, and a variety of statistical, spreadsheet, word processing, and presentation packages, as well as Web authoring tools.
Rahr Lab guidelines and resources
The Tree-Ring Lab has two measuring benches (to measuring widths with direct computer capture of data), one of which is equipped with a video camera and display system; one Zeiss Axioskop phase-contrast microscope, two Zeiss stereozoom microscopes, five Bausch and Lomb Stereozoom microscopes, three Schott fiberoptic illuminators and an IBM 486 computer, one AO Reichert sliding microtome, three Macintosh computers, and numerous increment borers and other field equipment.
The Lab has supported a good deal of research, including a four-year project on old growth red spruce and balsam fir (funded by U.S. Forest Service), a two-year project on jack pine in Maine (National Park Service funding), a two-year project on red spruce wood density (Murphy Fund of the Appalachian Mt. Club funding), and a two-year project on red spruce and environmental effects (Rockefeller Center Interdisciplinary Research funds). The Lab has also supported student research, including Presidential Scholar and honors thesis research as well as class project research for a number of years. Students are employed nearly every term to assist in research, and four graduates have served as full-time research assistants on grant-supported research projects.
The Lab is equipped with traditional facilities for the analysis of both fine-grained and coarse-grained components of soils and sediments. For fine-grained analyses, the Lab utilizes both the hydrometer and pipette methods for particle size analysis. As part of the sample preparation, samples must be oven-dried, weighed, and ultimately dispersed. The Lab possesses two high-grade ovens (one gravity feed and one mechanical vent), a de-ionizer, a Mettler self-taring scale, an analytical balance for precise weighing, a high-capacity fume hood, and three soil mixers for soil preparation. For subsequent analysis of the coarser soil/sediment fraction, the Lab is equipped with a sonic sifter for rapid analysis of the sand fraction and a Ro-Tap for sediment sieving of the extremely coarse fraction (coarser than 2 mm). For chemical analyses, the Lab possesses equipment for soil and water pH measurements, specific conductivity and salinity measurements, and a muffle furnace for organic matter analyses of soils. Besides furnishing equipment for scientific analysis, the Lab is also equipped with various safety mechanisms in case of an emergency – including an eye wash and emergency shower for any chemical accidents.
Although this and other field and laboratory equipment has been purchased primarily for faculty research, it has a substantial spillover into student research and undergraduate teaching. Currently, several students are utilizing this equipment for Senior and Honor theses, and almost all of this equipment gets incorporated into the physical geography teaching agenda. For our mandatory field and research methods class a physical geography field exercise (taking place either at Pine Park, Hanover or at the Dartmouth's Second College Grant) is required where students learn and utilize the surveying equipment, current meter equipment, and water quality equipment. For both Geomorphology and Fluvial Geomorphology courses, students utilize all aforementioned laboratory and field equipment as part of the course design, and many students select research topics incorporating field and laboratory analyses. In essence, the Department owns an variety of sophisticated and state-of-the-art equipment that is both at the disposal of our students and incorporated into our class structure, and exposes them to a technological level that at least rivals--if not surpasses--most graduate research institutions.
THE GIS/ASA LAB WORKS to support research and applications in geographic information systems, remote sensing, spatial analysis, and related fields. The lab is sponsored by the departments of Geography and Earth Sciences, the Environmental Studies program, the Biology department, and Academic Computing
To learn more about the lab, or to discuss a project that might benefit from access to the lab, please contact us.
Last Updated: 9/10/12