The laboratory

First approaches to establish a laboratory at the State Museum of Natural History Karlsruhe date back to 1977. In the course of the project »Past and present vegetation of Mount Hornisgrinde«, funded by the DFG, some few lab devices were acquired. Before, only equipment for pollen analysis and a pH meter were available at the museum, but now it became obvious that additional chemical analyses of peat would make more detailed insights possible than pollen analysis alone did. A new lab was, thus, established step by step, though spatial narrowness made some issues complicated. Nevertheless, quantities of ca. 30 chemical elements in the peat samples could be analysed.

The new lab, situated in the western corner tower of the museum since 2001, now provides space and equipment for efficient work. Trace analyses are possible using very small samples of, e.g., peat; we work with specimens that may have dry weights of less than 1 g. Therefore, we use the analysis methods of spectrophotometry, atomic absorption spectroscopy, polarography, inverse voltammetry, and ion chromatography. Automation allows a high sample throughput with low personnel effort.