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Soil Analysis Laboratory Soils Analysis Picture

The Soil Analysis Laboratory was established in the department of Geography in 1998 to enhance the teaching and research capabilities of the department. The primary goal of the lab is to provide expertise, equipment, and training for the analysis and characterization of soils and geologic sediments. The lab is utilized for both teaching and research by graduate and undergraduate students and faculty in the department. The lab houses a Malvern Mastersizer 2000 laser particle size instrument and accompanying computer equipment as well as standard pipette and sieving equipment for particle size analysis. In addition to the typical equipment located in soil characterization laboratories the lab also contains wet and dry aggregate stability equipment and a multi-spectral-radiometer for field quantification of soil reflectance parameters. The lab maintains a trailer mounted Giddings hydraulic drill rig and holds a foreign/quarantine soil permit from the USDA.

Numerous projects are done in collaboration with other units within the department. We currently have several ongoing projects field mapping soils, geologic materials, and landforms in the area and have been working closely with the Cartography Lab and Advanced Geospatial Lab to create detailed maps of our work. The Soil Analysis Lab is also closely linked with the Biogeography Laboratory. Examples of some recent investigations that have utilized the facility include: soil carbon sequestration studies in prairie, savanna, and agricultural systems of Illinois; human induced soil erosion in the Midwestern U.S.; Holocene landscape evolution in Sicily; forest dynamics in Ontario and Illinois; soils and precision agriculture systems in the Great Plains and the Corn Belt; periglacial landscape evolution in the U.S. mid-continent, and soil color-organic carbon relationships in the region.

Questions regarding the lab should be directed to Dr. Mike Konen.


Particle size analysis (sand, silt, & clay)

          Detailed sand and silt fractionation available on request for any method


Loss-on ignition (LOI)

Organic carbon content

Total carbon and total nitrogen content (C:N) using Elementar vario MAX instrument

Aggregate stability

          Wet sieving

          Dry sieving

Moisture content

Bulk density

Field mapping and inventory of soil organic carbon stocks

Several other field and laboratory services are available.  We may also be able to arrange the use of field sampling equipment if you do not have the necessary equipment.  Please contact Dr. Konen for more information. 


Current prices, turn-around times, and contact information:

Dr. Mike Konen

Northern Illinois University
Department of Geography
212 Davis Hall
DeKalb, IL  60115

Voice: 815-753-6849
Fax: 815-753-6872