Capabilities and Instrumentation

Our team focuses on analysis of environmental contaminants and environmental modeling. The following lists our instrumentation and computational capabilities.

Computational Capabilities

We maintain our own local high performance computer cluster. ;This cluster includes one head node, eight computational nodes, and two storage nodes in redundancy configuration:

  • Head node: 4 x 8 cores AMD Opteron(TM) Processor 6272 (total 32 cores), 32 GB memory, 5.5 TB storage
  • Compute node (each): 4 x 8 cores AMD Opteron(TM) Processor 6272 (total of 32 cores), 64 GB memory, 500 GB local storage
  • Storage node (each): 48 TB raw disk (36 TB usable)

We also own one and four compute nodes with 60 total cores that are operated and maintained by the Center for High Performance Computing (CHPC) at the University of Utah. Details about the hardware and cluster configuration are on the CHPC website. We also own 2 TB of home directory storage and 147 TB for group data storage on the cluster.

Analytical Laboratory

Our analytical laboratory contains a broad array of instrumentation to analyze environmental samples, including the list below.; More information about analyses we perform is available on our analytical laboratory webpage

  • A Thermo Evolution 600 UV-Vis spectrophotometer
  • A Shimadzu Nexera LC-40 high-performance liquid chromatograph (HPLC). We primarily use this instrument for analysis of carbonyls (formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, etc.) in water and ambient air (with DNPH cartridges).
  • A Mettler Toledo XP6 microbalance and accessories that we use for gravimetric analysis PM2.5 filter samples and permeation tubes used to calibrate mercury instrumentation.
  • A Thermo XSeries 2 ICP-MS
  • A Thermo Flash 2000 elemental analyzer
  • A Shimadzu TOC-V with an SSM-5000A attachment for water and soil analysis of organic and inorganic carbon
  • An Anton Paar SVM 3000 viscometer, which we use to determine the viscosity of different crude oils from the region
  • A Shimadzu QP2010 Ultra gas chromatograph/mass spectrometer (GC/MS) with a direct probe. We primarily use this instrument to detect gas-phase oxidized mercury compounds. It includes a custom-built preconcentrator for this purpose.
  • A Shimadzu QP2010 GC/GC/MS with a COMBI-PAL autosampler (AOC-5000). This instrument is configured for analysis of speciated volatile organic compounds in air and water.
  • An Entech evacuated canister sampling system. This includes 60 silonite-coated 6 L stainless steel canisters, an automated can cleaner, a diluter/calibration preparation module, and a 7200 preconcentrator with a 16-can autosampler. The 7200 connects to the Shimadzu QP2010 GC/GC/MS.
  • A Dionex ICS-3000 ion chromatograph (IC)
  • A 900o muffle furnace, as well as lower temperature ovens
  • Several Tekran 2537 elemental mercury analyzers
  • Custom instrumentation for measurement of atmospheric mercury, including a cryogenic preconcentrator upstream of a GC/MS, two dual-channel elemental and oxidized mercury analyzers, and calibrators for elemental mercury and oxidized mercury compounds

Field Sites

We operate air quality monitoring sites around the region. Most of our sites are designed to monitor the meteorology and chemistry of wintertime inversions and winter ozone, so they often only operate during winter. The following is an overview of measurements we collect at these sites.


Our Horsepool site (40.143, -109.469) has operated since 2011 in an area of intensive oil and gas development in the Uinta Basin. This is our flagship site, and we have hosted many collaborative research efforts at the site with NOAA, BYU, University of Utah, and others. Our permanent instrumentation at the site measures:

  • NOx with an Ecotech 9841 analyzer with a UV NO2 converter from Air Quality Design
  • NOy with an Ecotech 9843
  • Ozone with an Ecotech 9810
  • Carbon monoxide with an Ecotech 9830
  • PM2.5 with a Met One BAM 1020
  • Methane and total non-methane hydrocarbons with a Chromatotec ChromaTHC with methane option
  • Speciated C2-C12 hydrocarbons with a Chromatotec airmozone system
  • Speciated C2-C12 hydrocarbons and C1-C3 alcohols via a custom-built canister sampling system
  • Speciated carbonyls with a custom-built DNPH cartridge sampling system
  • Net solar radiation with a Kipp and Zonen CNR4
  • Incoming and outgoing UV A and B radiation with a Kipp and Zonen UV A/B
  • Snow depth with a custom-built accoustic sensor
  • Gaseous mercury with a Tekran 2537, a membrane-based system for oxidized mercury developed at the University of Nevada Reno, and a gaseous mercury calibrator we developed
  • Basic meteorology

We also routinely measure flux of methane, non-methane hydrocarbons, carbon dioxide, and carbonyls from snow at the site with flux chambers, and we are installing capacity to measure methane and carbon dioxide fluxes via eddy covariance with an LGR fast greenhouse gas analyzer.


We operate the Roosevelt site (40.294, -110.009) in a collaboration with the Utah Division of Air Quality, which maintains a regulatory monitoring station at the same location. The following are measured at the site:

  • NOx with a molybdenum NO2 converter (DAQ)
  • NOx/y with an Air Quality Design NOy converter and a Teledyne 200EU and an Air Quality Design UV NO2 converter (USU)
  • Ozone (DAQ)
  • PM2.5 (DAQ)
  • Methane and total non-methane hydrocarbons with a Thermo 55i (USU)
  • Speciated C2-C12 hydrocarbons with a Perkin Elmer turbomatrix autosampler and real time GC (USU)
  • Speciated C2-C12 hydrocarbons and C1-C3 alcohols via a custom-built canister sampling system (USU)
  • Net solar radiation with a Kipp and Zonen CNR4 (USU)
  • Snow depth with an accoustic sensor (USU)
  • Basic meteorology (DAQ)

Castle Peak

We established the Castle Peak site (40.051, -110.019) to monitor air quality in a part of the Basin that is dominated by crude oil development. At the site we measure:

  • NOx with a Thermo 42i and an Air Quality Design UV NO2 converter
  • Ozone with a 2B model 205
  • Basic meteorology
  • Speciated carbonyls with a custom-built DNPH cartridge sampling system

Other Sites

We also operate sites that measure ozone (with portable 2B monitors) and basic meteorology on solar-powered tripods. The number and location of these sites has changed from year to year. currently we operate one of these sites at Seven Sisters (39.983, -109.344) and another at Willow Creek (39.833, -109.583).

Mobile Emissions Measurement Laboratory

We use a mobile emissions measurement laboratory to characterize emissions of methane, carbon dioxide, non-methane hydrocarbons, alcohols, and carbonyls from various sources. The trailer is currently configured to (1) measure soil or water fluxes with up to six flux chambers at a time and (2) measure emission rates from various components of oil and gas equipment with a high-flow sampler. The trailer includes these major features:

  • An LGR ultraportable greenhouse gas analyzer to measure concentrations of methane, carbon dioxide, and water vapor
  • A custom high flow measurement system that handles emission rates of up to 1900 L/min. This system uses a Fox FT3 thermal mass flow meter to measures air flow and is intrinsically safe and fully grounded. It is currently configured to analyze for carbon dioxide, methane, and a suite of hydrocarbons, alcohols, and carbonyls.
  • A canister sampling system to collect whole air samplers to analyze for non-methane hydrocarbons and alcohols
  • A DNPH cartridge sampling system to capture samples of carbonyls
  • A dynamic dilution calibration system to deliver precise, customizable concentrations of gases of interest in real time.
  • A meteorological tower that is attached to the trailer and sets up in seconds
  • A dynamic flux chamber system modeled after the EPA emission isolation flux chamber

Unmanned Aerial System

We maintain an unmanned aerial system (UAS) with capability to measure meteorological parameters and ozone. We use the UAS to characterize vertical properties of the ambient atmosphere.

Soil, Water and Ecological Capabilities

  • A YSI EX01 water quality multiprobe to measure pH, turbidity, DO, conductivity, and temperature


We also utilize the following instrumentation in our research:

  • Two BGI PQ200 PM2.5 filter samplers
  • A Met One BAM 1020 PM10 sampler
  • Ten 2B ozone monitors and seven solar systems to perform high density ozone measurement campaigns
  • Two 2.5 m diameter balloons with electric winches, thousands of feet of line, Smart Tether meteorological instrumentation, and reduced-weight 2B ozone analyzers to characterize meteorology and ozone vertically