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Sampling and Analysis Procedures

Collection Methods

Bottle Collection: Samples are taken on a quarterly schedule. Field data are collected using a total dissolved solids meter, and samples are returned to the IUP Chemistry Lab for analysis.

Reservoir Collection: Samples are taken on a quarterly schedule. They are obtained using a Kemmerer depth sampler, five feet above the reservoir bottom. Field data are collected using a total dissolved solids meter, and samples are returned to the IUP Chemistry Lab for analysis.

Pad-Site: Monitoring is done on a quarterly basis. Data are collected in the field using a total dissolved solids meter.

Chemistry Methods

pH: This is a measure of the amount of acid in a sample. Neutral pH (pH=7) means there is neither acid nor base. A pH value less than 7 denotes an acidic sample, and a pH greater than 7 denotes a basic or alkaline sample. The farther away the pH is from neutrality, the stronger the acid or base becomes.

Alkalinity: This test is performed by titrating (or mixing) a sample with small amounts of hydrochloric acid (HCl) while observing the pH until it reaches a value less than 4. The more acid you have to add to reach this pH, the more alkaline substances exist in the sample.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): This analysis can be performed in different ways, but the goal is to determine how much soluble chemical is dissolved in the water sample. High levels may indicate problems such as acid mine drainage or a chemical spill.

Ion Chromatography (IC): Ion chromatography is a separation method for negatively charged compounds (anions) such as chlorides, nitrates, sulfates, and phosphates. A mixture of sample is introduced to a column where very specific material is packed inside (stationary phase). The column is then washed continuously with another liquid (mobile phase). Each anion that may be present has a specific affinity for the solid and mobile phases. Anions that are attracted more to the stationary phase will exit the column slowly, whereas anions that are attracted more to the mobile phase will exist the column more quickly. This allows us to separate a complex mixture of anions.

Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS): Atomic absorption is an analysis for metals, where a sample is aspirated and passed through a very hot flame of acetylene-air mixture. The flame excites the metal atoms, causing them to absorb and then release energy as light of a very specific color. By monitoring the wavelength of light that represents that color, we can measure the intensity of the color and determine how much metal is present.

Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectrometry (ICP-OES): Like AAS, this method for analyzing metals involves aspirating a sample and passing it through a flame. In this case, an argon-nitrogen plasma is the heat source (~8,000 °C), which excites the metal atoms. As the atoms absorb energy, they release it as light of a specific color (wavelength). Using ICP-OES, we can measure the wavelengths of the emitted light from the samples and determine the amount of each metal present. ICP-OES offers advantages over AAS because of better sensitivity and detection limits (parts per billion) and it allows one to analyze all of the metals in a sample simultaneously.

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