The Department of Environmental Sciences is at the cutting edge of climate, atmospheric and Earth surface processes research. Our aim is to understand our physical environment, the interaction of people with the environment, and improve the way we manage the environment.
We are a leading Australian research institution with an enviable track record in river geomorphology and the study of environmental contaminants.
One of the big drawcards of environmental teaching and research at Macquarie University is that it occurs within our unique North Ryde campus location. Set in its own diverse ecosystem, our green fields campus site enables many of our students and researchers to participate and experience natural processes and observations within our campus bounds.
Our research staff are also our teaching staff, and we place a strong emphasis on practical learning and experience. We house several state-of-the-art laboratories supporting contaminant research, geochronology, and geomorphology. Some of these include:
Environmental Quality Laboratory
Located in Lab 1 in Building EMC2, the Environmental Quality Laboratory is used primarily for the structural and elemental analysis of soils, sediments, rocks, artefacts and other materials. The Lab also hosts three Hach spectrophotometers, soil hydraulics equipment (UMS Ksat, Darcy boxes) and a range of other equipment for materials analysis.
Find out more about the Environmental Quality Laboratory.
Sediment Analysis Laboratory
The Sediment Analysis Laboratory has a range of spaces and equipment to process sediment and biological samples ready for analysis.
The Sediment Analysis Laboratory facilitates:
- drying and weighing samples
- wet and dry sieving
- ultrasonic bath and end-over-end mixers
- chemical treatment of samples in preparation for geochemical or particle size analysis, including a fume cupboard
- a Malvern Mastersizer 2000 laser particle sizer uses laser diffraction “MIE theory” to look at particles in the 0.04 micron to 2000 micron range
- Micromeritics Sedigraph particle size analyser uses an X-ray sedimentation process to look at particles from 0.01micron to 30o micron.
- settling tube (for sand size analysis)
- Olympus dissecting stereo-microscopes
- petrological microscope.
Also available within the Sediment Analysis Laboratory:
- a cold-storage room for wet sediment samples prior to processing
- quarantine laboratory and a AQIS approved quarantine storage room
- sample storage areas
- field equipment store.
The Sediment Analysis Laboratory is located at E5A Level 0.
‘Traps’ MQ Luminescence Dating Facility
The ‘Traps’ MQ Luminescence Dating Facility was opened in 2010 and represents the only luminescence dating facility in Sydney servicing institutions in the wider metropolitan region including UTS, UNSW and UNE.
The facility, run by Dr Kira Westaway, contains a fully equipped wet room preparation area and dry instrument room containing two ‘Riso’ automated luminescence readers (one with single-grain capabilities and the other with a red TL setup), a low-level beta GM multicounter and two Daybreak thick-source alpha counters all within subdued red light conditions.
Climate Science Laboratory
This laboratory houses analytical and monitoring equipment associated with research in atmospheric mercury, agricultural pollution, boundary layer meteorology, and air pollution meteorology/air quality/industrial pollution.
We look at the measurement and modelling of the air-surface exchange of trace gases and particulates. We endeavour to further our understanding of the biogeochemical cycles related to these global environmental issues.
Other areas of interest include:
- trace emissions from coal combustion, with a particular emphasis on mercury;
- motor vehicle emissions, particularly associated with alternate fuels and improved fuel quality;
- sources and atmospheric chemistry of volatile organic compounds; and
- interactions between air pollutants and global climate processes.