Instructional and Research Facilities

Geoscience Research at California State University, Bakersfield

Bakersfield is the center of the southern San Joaquin Valley, the fourth-largest oil-producing area in the United States and one of the most productive and heavily groundwater- dependent agricultural regions in the world.  Diverse geological environments including the Sierra Nevada, the Pacific Coast, San Andreas Fault, Mojave Desert, and the Basin and Range province are nearby.  Proximity of the campus to the petroleum industry, easy access to diverse geological environments, the broad range of faculty research interests, the excellent student/faculty ratio, and a range of modern research facilities permit the student to select from a broad spectrum of research topics.   Abundant opportunities exist for cooperation with local petroleum and environmental companies and regulatory agencies.  Due to excellent access to these local employers, students are highly successful in obtaining a diverse range of professional positions. 

Specific areas of recent research include hydrogeology, aqueous geochemistry, petroleum geology, sedimentary petrology, paleoclimate studies, environmental geophysics, and seismology.  Research is supported by local industry and regulatory agencies as well as the more traditional academic granting agencies.  Faculty and student research is commonly published in journals of the highest quality including GSA Bulletin, Geology, Journal of Geophysical Research, Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, Environmental Science & Technology, Applied Geochemistry, Geophysical Research Letters, AAPG Bulletin, Journal of Environmental Quality, Earth and Planetary Science Letters, Quaternary Research, and Palaeolimnology.  Research funding in recent years has come from the National Science Foundation, Petroleum Research Fund, Department of Defense, Office of Naval Research, Center for Field Research, as well as private industry and local government bodies.


Trace-Element Geochemistry Lab  Its center is a Perkin Elmer Elan 6100 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS).  Only a few mL of liquid sample are needed for quickly measuring most elements with sub parts-per-billion detection levels.  A Cetac LSX-200 plus laser ablation sampler allows direct ICP-MS analysis of solids such as minerals and rocks.  We also have an Parr Microwave Digester for dissolution of rocks, sediments, and minerals for ICP-MS analysis.  Other instruments include aDionex Ion Chromatograph.  Funding for this lab was through a grant from the Department of Defense. 

The California Well Sample Repository -  containing cores and samples from more than 5000 wells from both on- and offshore California and 1500 catalogued micropaleontological samples, is located on campus. 

Geophysics Equipment and Facilities include a paleomagnetism lab, 12-channel seismograph, magnetometer, gravimeter, electrical resistivity meter, and a M-31 ground conductivity meter. 

The Petrography Laboratory hosts a wide range of petrographic microscopes including luminescence and epifluorescence, a brand new PANalytic Empyrean X-Ray diffractometer, and a Hitachi Scanning Electron Microscope. 

X-Ray Diffractometer The PANalytical Empyrean  X-Ray Diffractometer is used for the identification of minerals in soils and sediments by powder X-Ray diffraction.  Funding for this instrument was through a 2015 grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program.

Scanning Electron Microscopy Laboratory Established in 2007, the lab houses a Hitachi S-3400variable pressure scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with an Oxford Inca energy dispersive x-ray spectrometer (EDS) and GitanChromaCL live color catholuminescence (CL)imaging system. The EDS detector measures the elemental composition of samples and the CL detector shows subtle, otherwise invisible textures such as zonation in crystals. Funding for this lab was through a grant from the Department of Defense.

Field Equipment We have a full range of field equipment and instruments for the collection of water, soil, and sediment samples, and field measurements.  This includes a Gidding coring rig for the collection of sediment cores and the installation of shallow monitoring wells.  Funding for the coring rig was through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

Arrangements for use of additional equipment at local companies are easily made.