Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Sediment Lab Suite and Carbon Analysis Lab

Learn about the Sediment Laboratory Suite and the Carbon Analysis Laboratory at the USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center in Santa Cruz, California.

At our Science Center, we have a suite of laboratories that we affectionately call the "sed lab." The sed lab really consists of 5 labs, arranged next to each other to allow our lab technicians to easily move back and forth between them while processing sediment samples:

  • Sediment Preparation Lab
  • Fine Particle Analysis Lab
  • Settling Tubes Lab
  • Fume Hood Lab
  • Carbon Analysis Lab

The Sediment Preparation Lab contains all of the tools and equipment needed to prepare and extract sediment for analysis. The samples, which range from long sediment cores to small bags of mud, come from a variety of environments from the deep ocean floor to beaches and marshes.

In the Fine Particle Analysis Lab, the Beckman Coulter LS 13 320 Laser Diffraction Particle Size Analyzer uses laser diffraction to automatically analyze sediment size fractions between 2mm and 0.35 microns (-1 phi to 11.5 phi). The Sedigraph III Particle Size Analyzer uses X-rays to automatically analyze settling times for sediment sizes between 300 microns and 0.1 microns (2 phi to 13 phi).

In the Settling Tubes Lab, we can calculate sediment settling velocity and measure particle size using gravity. We use custom-built settling tubes filled with water – three at 2 meters tall and one 3 meters tall.

Our Fume Hood Lab allows for sample preparation in safe conditions, while performing delicate chemical extractions.

In our Carbon Analysis Lab, we analyze dried samples to find the total inorganic carbon, total organic carbon, and total carbon content.



Angela Tan

Physical Scientist
Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Phone: 831-332-4086