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Analyzing geochemistry at the Fluids and Volatiles Lab


Narrator:            This is Science Today. Researchers are capturing and studying gases emitted from Iceland's volcanoes to better understand the formation of Earth and the atmosphere that makes life possible here. Geochemist David Hilton of the University of California, San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography, explains how they analyze samples taken from the Earth's mantle at their Fluids and Volatiles lab.

Hilton:            There are two types of samples — rocks and there are fluids. The rocks, we collect in the field, we break off a piece of rock, transport it back to the laboratory here at Scripps, we pick out the constituent minerals of interest and then we crush these minerals in a vacuum system to release volatiles.

Narrator:            With fluids collected from mud paths and hot springs, they use a funnel.

Hilton:            So, we use an evacuated glass bottle and we take the gas coming up from the mud paths into the gas bottle, trying to avoid air contamination and again, we transfer the bottles back to the lab, extract the gases, purify the gases in both cases.

Narrator:            For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.