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The Geology/Physics Department at Georgia Southwestern State University has recently integrated satellite navigational systems and computerized mapping technologies into their educational and research programs. Traditional surveying techniques transit and tape measurements) are still taught; however Global Positioning System (GPS) is currently being used to obtain additional geographic and topographic information. GPS was developed by the U.S. Department of Defense as a world-wide navigational tool for both civilian and military use. It employs twenty-four satellites that orbit approximately 20,000 kilometers above the earth's surface and serve as reference points. Ground receivers simultaneously collect timing signals from four or more satellites, calculate distances to each satellite, and then correct the information for errors in travel times. Using this data the GPS equipment can provide three-dimensional (both latitude/longitude and elevation) data for any location on the earth's surface with sub-meter resolution.
The GPS information is collected in digital form so that it can easily be downloaded to computers and combined with digital maps of local and regional rivers, roads, and railroads. These digital maps form the basis of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The computerized coverage provide a more efficient and powerful medium for geographic data because they are easily updated, revised, enlarged, and combined. Digital maps also allow large spatially-referenced databases (such as water quality, stream flow, soil composition, and subsurface information) to be directly linked to the geographic features they describe.
The Geology Department at Georgia Southwestern is currently using GIS and GPS to setup basemaps and databases for geologic fieldwork and to better prepare their undergraduates for today's technology-intensive jobs and graduate research programs.
Scanning Electron Microscope facilities include an ISI ABT SX-40A microscope and Film-Vac gold coater housed in a dedicated laboratory. Surface morphology and grain size studies of ceramics materials are routinely performed for local engineering firms to document the effects of commercial treatment processes. Surface biodegradation of marble statuary has recently been investigated to assist the National Parks Service in preservation activities.
The GSW Department of Geology and Physics has its own seismic station on campus (AMG = Americus, GA) seismometers. For online seismic data and more
information, see GSW's Seismic Station
Other geophysical equipment includes two Worden gravimeters, two EG&G Geometrics proton precession magnetometers, and a Soil Test Resistivity meter with a multi-electrode switchbox (pictured).
X-ray facilities allow the rapid determination of the crystal structure and chemical composition of minerals and rocks. At GSW, these techniques are routinely used to aid industrial mineral exploration, characterize synthetic ceramic products and quantify geologic models. In addition, these tools are an integral portion of coursework (Mineralogy-GEOL3121; Petrology - GEOL4711). Specific equipment includes:
Digital imaging facilities allow high resolution photography, photomicrographs, and video imaging of a variety of geologic materials for delivery in a digital format. Digital images are applied extensively in the Department's website (as seen here), interactive computer tutorials, computer-projected digital slide collections, computer-animated ancillaries for lecture material, documentation of field studies, and photoanalysis of petrographic thin section samples.
Specific equipment includes:
The Department is equipped with a portable soil & water testing laboratory, which has the capability of testing over 100 physical and chemical parameters to assess the quality of surface water, groundwater, and soil. The soil & water testing lab includes a DR/2010 Spectrophotometer, Conductivity Meter, pH Meter, ORP meter, TDS meter, Permeameter, Turbidity Meter, and Digital Current Meter. Along with GIS and GPS tools, the equipment is used for research by the faculty and students to generate a baseline water/soil quality database for the lower Flint River Watershed in Southwestern Georgia. The tools are also an integral part of coursework (Environmental Geology, Hydrogeology, and Aqueous Environmental Geochemistry).
Open Stream Current Velocity Meter: This current meter (Swoffer Model 2100) is used to determine open stream velocities in the range of 0.1 to 25 feet per second or 0.03 to 7.5 meters per second (selectable). The sensor is equipped with a photo-fiber-optic device connected to a 2" propeller, which rotates to create a signal from a photodiode to a photosensitive transistor. This signal is produced at a rate of four pulses per revolution and is transferred via flexible electrical cable to the indicator where it is processed to display velocity. The discharge of a stream is then determined by multiplying the average velocity and surveyed cross-sectional area of the stream.