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LACMRERS Facilities and Equipment

Lucille A. Carver Mississippi River Environmental Research Station

Lucille A. Carver Mississippi River Environmental Research Station

  • Size: 8,250 ft2
  • Location: 3388 Highway 22, Muscatine, Iowa 52761-8307
  • Floor plan

LACMRERS serves as a field station with 8,250 total square feet of laboratory, classroom, office, and shop space.

Field Equipment

LACMRERS houses sampling and monitoring equipment for biological and chemical research:

  • Nets and waders
  • Alkalinity kits
  • Multiprobes
  • River samplers (for parts-per-billion analysis) and autosamplers
  • A Fultz groundwater pump system
  • Teflon samplers
  • Churn splitters
  • Filters and bottles
  • 10 YSI multiprobes (for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH, and SpC)
  • 15 nitrate and turbidity sensors
  • Three self-contained underwater field fluorometers


LACMRERS Sediment Laboratory

Fertilizer runoff and soil erosion have made the study of sediments in the river an important area of research. The laboratory offers equipment for full-scale analysis of sediment transport and fate, including:

  • Sediment sieves and Rotap
  • Moisture analyzer
  • Drying ovens
  • Muffle furnace

Field erosion devices are also deployed from this laboratory.

  • A Sedigraph III x-ray analysis machine, with Micrometrics automated 18-sample tray, analyzes silt and clay particle size distributions, cutting the amount of labor by a factor of 10 over older pipette methods
  • An Ankermid particle size analyzer is a computerized inspection system for particle size analysis
  • A gamma source radionucleotide tracer/spectroscopy system measures radioactive isotopes for source tracing. Fallout radionuclides are excellent tracers in sediment studies, because they are delivered naturally in precipitation and adhere rapidly and strongly to sediment
  • The amount of naturally-occurring radioactive isotopes in sediments can reveal where the sediment originated (forest, cornfield, grassland, urban, etc.). The gamma spectroscopy may be used to determine the source of suspended and deposited sediments in the river

LACMRERS Water Quality Laboratory

IIHR Assistant Research Scientist Carrie Davis shows a student how to use a water-quality sensor.

IIHR Assistant Research Scientist Carrie Davis shows a student how to use a water-quality sensor.

Water quality matters to everyone. The water-quality laboratory at LACMRERS provides space for part-per-billion water processing of samples and research. A field preparation room offers facilities for calibrating water-quality sensors and equipment for field use. Mississippi River water is pumped directly into the field preparation room for real-time analysis and sampling 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The laboratory includes all standard laboratory items, including:

  • Nanopure ultrapure water system
  • Fume hood
  • pH and conductivity meters for class work and titrations
  • Balances and microscopes

A Turner lab and field fluormeter, together with a laboratory spectrometer and associated equipment, provide for algal research and various rapid water assays. In addition, the laboratory has bacteria media, incubators, and an IDEXX rapid bacteria system that can test within 18 hours for waterborne pathogen indicators, such as E-coli and fecal bacteria.

Bottom Sediment Coring Equipment

The LACMRERS 24-foot pontoon boat can be set up with vibracore coring equipment used for collecting samples of underwater sediments. The vibracore can collect a continuous three-inch diameter continuous core sample of 12 to 15 feet in length. These cores can be used for a variety of research projects:

  • Determining fgrain size and shape analysis
  • Depositional history
  • Testing compaction of sediments for structures
  • Sediment composition
  • Age-dating of the sediment
  • Chemical analysis
  • Pollen
  • Diatom work

The bottom sediment coring equipment is also used to verify bathymetric mapping and scour and depositional history. Work on coring some backwater areas is well underway, and plans are in the works for further coring of backwater and main channel areas of the Mississipppi River.

Hydroacoustic River Bottom Mapping (Bathymetry)

IIHR owns a state-of-the-art RESON SeaBat 7125 multibeam echo sounder, capable of collecting data resulting in a high-resolution three-dimensional map of the river bottom. The dataset captures the topographic, bathymetric, and substrate features of the river bottom. These data support a broad range of research, including evaluating the influences of environmental and adaptive river management changes on river corridors and watersheds, documenting habitat characteristics, evaluating river scour around structures, and more. The mutltibeam echo sounder can simultaneously scan 512 locations on the riverbed over an angle of 120 degrees. The Reson system can resolve depths to accuracies of ¼-inch.

Research Vessels

Three IIHR research boats are housed at LACMRERS:

  • Two KANN custom-designed aluminum boats (18 foot and 22 foot)
  • A 24-foot pontoon boat to support teaching, coring, and water-quality and biological research
Students and researchers on the river.

Students and researchers on the river.

The boats are outfitted with a four-stroke outboard with dual throttle control for ultra-slow or very fast travel; AC/DC outlets for laptops, GPS, and hydroacoustics; and a winch and B-reel for river sampling, bathymetric surveys, and hydroacoustic studies.

Meetings and Workshops

LACMRERS hosts a number of meetings, workshops, mini-conferences, and informal “get togethers” where researchers, students, and agency personnel can present ideas, form collaborations, and test hypotheses on Mississippi River issues and initiatives. These meetings and workshops have included a variety of events, ranging from formal workshops hosting researchers from around the country, to IIHR’s informal annual “LACMRERS Day,” allowing students, staff, and faculty to visit LACMRERS and learn more about the river in an informal setting.

The LACMRERS classroom holds up to 40 people and is complete with a high-definition projection and sound equipment. A fully-equipped kitchen with pass-through to the classroom complements the meeting space.

LACMRERS has hosted meetings and workshops for the:

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Last modified on January 13th, 2016
Posted on January 21st, 2011

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