Soil Analysis Laboratory

The soil analysis laboratory was established in the department 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 advanced geovisual mapping lab to create detailed maps of our work.

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.


  • Particle size analysis (sand, silt and clay):
    • Laser.
    • Pipette.
    • Hydrometer.
  • Detailed sand and silt fractionation available on request for any method.
  • pH.
  • 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.

Contact Us

Department of Earth, Atmosphere and Environment
Davis Hall, Room 312

815-753-1943 (undergraduate)
815-753-0631 (graduate)

815-753-1945 (fax)

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