What happened to the rock samples?

Remember those rock samples the team took from nunataks and erratic boulders in Antarctica? They have all arrived in Scotland in 5 blue plastic boxes. Jenny has measured the sample thicknesses and then crushing the rocks (see video). The crushed material is then sieved. Crushing is repeated until we have sufficient material in the 250-500 micron size fraction (like coarse sand). Once we have a few hundred grams of sand we start mineral separation to isolate quartz from other minerals. We will explain those processes as they are performed.

Video: Jenny prepares rock samples by measuring and crushing them.

All 32 of the samples will be processed to the clean quartz stage. We will then split the samples. About 1 gram of clean quartz will be used for Neon-21 determination here at SUERC (Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre), and 30 grams will be sent to PRIME Lab (Purdue Rare Isotope Measurement Laboratory) for Nat to do his in-situ Carbon-14 magic. The remainder will be processed to beryllium oxide (BeO) and aluminum oxide (Al2O3) at SUERC for future Beryllium-10 and Aluminum-26 measurements (at PRIME Lab and SUERC).

The relationship between the SUERC lab and PRIME Lab is largely informal, resulting from collaborations between Jon Harbor, Arjen Stroeven and Derek Fabel. This collaboration started in 1997 when Derek worked as a postdoc in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University and PRIME Lab. The scientific collaboration is continuing with MAGIC-DML and also between PRIME Lab and the SUERC AMS Laboratory.

As outlined above, the preliminary sample processing is being done at SUERC. Some members of MAGIC-DML are currently undergoing field training near Abisko in northern Sweden, and it is likely that we will come up with a clearer structure about where samples will be measured. This will then determine how much of the sample processing happens at SUERC, since we will need to take into consideration the most suitable method for transporting purified beryllium and aluminum to the US.

Text by Derek Fabel and Julia Spinolo

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