.This class is an interesting
mix - part geotechnical training for jobs in industry and part
geological methods for environmental analysis.
a superfund site within driving distance (about an hour
each way). The Palmerton superfund site is a very large area of
soil contaminated with zinc due to years of smelter dust and
soot. The property is owned by Viacom (it was a "poison pill"
they inherited when they bought some company that had bought some
company, etc. - Viacom didn't cause the mess, but now they're
responsible) and overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Since the EPA will not allow us to
sample soil on the superfund
site, we do our soil sampling near the
Students learn to use the tools for
soil sampling, use differential GPS to document the sample locations,
and then a few volunteers do the chemical analyses in the lab using the
Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.
Soil sampling near Palmerton with
a small soil auger and then
transfering the sample to a plastic zip lock bag.
The Palmerton site is truly
amazing. The dead trees in this photo have been standing for
almost fifty years, but do not rot because the zinc contamination acts
as an antibiotic that kills decomposing bacteria and fungi. Zinc
is, in fact, the active ingredient in most diaper creams because it
kills bacteria that can fester in wet diapers!
Dan Runkle, head of the Wildlife Information Center,
was incredibly generous to give us a tour of the area. He's
remarkably knowledgeable and a really great guy!
More pictures to come!