The rock and ice mechanics lab at Lamont-Doherty is led by PIs Heather Savage, Christine McCarthy and Ben Holtzman. We are in the process of growing our lab and building our experimental program. Along with a team of postdocs, undergrads, grads, and longtime staff engineer Ted, we are rehabilitating and revamping some of the old equipment and building new rigs for exciting new experiments on both rock and ice. You can follow along with our progress here.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

changing a gasket

So we've been suspecting for awhile that the vertical hydraulic piston on the biax might be leaking. Now that Nicholas has arrived to really start plugging away on some experiments, it became apparent that it needed fixing. Ted figured that we needed to change a gasket, which is no small feat. This week Ted and Nicholas slung a pulley system over a beam in the ceiling and carefully lifted out the cylinder.
 Inside that big yellow cylinder lives a whole series of concentric rings that fit together to form the seal. Ted and Nicholas inspected them all carefully. Most of them were all still in great shape, despite some forty odd years of usage. But one piece in particular was torn to shreds. They replaced the part, lugged the cylinder back up and reattached it to the biax frame.
Next thing on the docket is improving the hydraulic system on the vertical ram. Nicholas wants to add a reservoir system so that he can very quickly add and decrease the normal stress. Currently we only have a little hand crank. To be continued...

Friday, 11 January 2013

Post-holiday activities in the lab

There has been a flurry of activity in the rock mechanics lab now that we are all back from the holiday. Hannah has been making big strides in the paleothermometer project, cranking out up to four experiments per day. Next she will analyze the samples in the mass spectrometer.

And although Mandy had to return to Germany, Heather has been continuing to put jackets on her granite samples in anticipation of Mandy's return later this year. Those copper jackets (left) have to be pressed onto the sample by bringing both up to 60 MPa in the triax. The blue plastic makes a seal to hold the pressure internally.                                                                              And finally, I continued to work on the electronics for the ice rig by creating yet another panel. This one will allow us to splice into the signal coming from each of the load cells and LVDT, which will be extremely helpful once we start troubleshooting the apparatus.