Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NSF Funded Archaeometry at CSULB

We received good news today that our NSF Archaeometry proposal was funded. This proposal, submitted by Hector Neff, Greg Holk (Geology) and myself provides funding for instrument upgrades, student support, and collaborative research support. We will soon have funds for:

  1. A Bruker Portable XRF spectrometer. This handheld device looks a lot like a proto-phaser from Star Trek but allows one to do nondestructive elemental characterization - in the lab and field. It is an amazing instrument that will be of tremendous use for student training as well as field research. We plan to use one of these on Easter Island this summer.
  2. A new CHN analyzer. This instrument, a Costech ECS 4010 CHNSO Analyzer, uses combustion to determine carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, and oxygen in organic samples, then sends the resulting gases on to our Finnegan MAT Delta-XP isotope-ratio mass spectrometer. This new instrument will enable us to improve our capacity to analyze isotopes in carbonaceous sediments and bone.
  3. Graduate student support in the laboratory. Though we continue to be prevented from taking archaeology graduate students, we will fund geography and geology students and will support students from other local universities.  
  4. Subsidized research. Much of our funding provides subsidizes analyses for collaborative archaeological research projects involving such relatively routine projects. For routine analytical work, we will identify or develop appropriate analytical procedures and direct student employees in sample preparation and data collection. We will also synthesize the analytical data and prepare reports outlining analytical procedures and results of the projects. NSF funding for instrument service and maintenance for the GBC Optimass will permit LA-TOF-ICP-MS to be deployed for routine archaeological applications at rates that should be affordable to a wide cross section of academic researchers. To be eligible for the subsidized rate, researchers will have to submit a CV and 3 – 5 page miniproposal describing the project and sampling design.
  5. Visiting research program. Like previous archaeometry grants, we will support researchers who want to come to CSULB to conduct research with us. The visiting researcher program is intended to support highly innovative applications of LA-TOF-ICP-MS and projects that innovatively use the isotope-rate mass spectrometer, the XRF or combine LA-TOF-ICP-MS with SEM/EDX/WDX. Proposals should outline how the work departs from previous analytical work in archaeology and should present a specific, compelling reason why the originating archaeologist should be involved directly in the analytical work. Projects judged not to meet these criteria will be undertaken as subsidized collaborative research projects. I believe that for projects judged eligible for support under the visiting researcher program, participant room and board will be covered for up to two weeks in Long Beach, and instrument time on both the TOF-ICP-MS and the ESEM/EDX/WDX will be fully subsidized. For projects that produce very encouraging results during the initial visit, continued remote on-line collaboration involving use of both the ESEM/EDX/WDX and the LA-TOF-ICP-MS will be possible via the PCI-Quartz interface. Instrument time will be fully subsidized for such on-line collaboration, but any additional sample preparation (e.g., preparation of ESEM polished sections) will be paid for by collaborating researchers.

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