China Research

Sediment Analysis

Today, on our final day in Hong Kong, I finished a week long sediment analysis of four surface samples collected around Sharp Island, Hong Kong. I only performed two analysis on the samples- grain size and carbonate content, but it proved to be extremely worthwhile and will hopefully be tied in to Sara’s research on the coral communities around sharp island.

The people in my lab were great at helping me find the supplies needed to run the same kind of analysis techniques I learned at Eckerd’s sediment lab. Asking for a set of seive’s of different sizes was a particularly interesting adventure. The students in the lab usually use sediments for pollutants so they commonly grind them up into powder and extract things from them in various ways. The fact that I wanted to dry the sediments out without baking the muds together seemed like a foreign concept (which…if you think about the situation…it was), as well as my need for a whole stack of seives to separate out the grain sizes.

Eventually most of my needs were met. The only thing that was not available was full time use of a fume hood for adding the HCl. I initially mixed the HCl in a fume hood and then added it to the samples in a fume hood but eventually had to give up the space to other researchers and I was forced to leave the samples sitting in the open air. It seemed safe enough but I wouldn’t like to run too many samples like that.

They don’t use safety goggles here. You have to wear a lab coat at all times. 99% of the time students are wearing latex gloves. I haven’t seen a single pair of safety goggles since I’ve been here. This became most distressing to me when I was mixing concentrated HCl with water. ‘Always do what you outta, add the acid to the water’. The phrase never sounded so important.

Anyway, I’m pretty much finished with my studies in the lab and have to get ready to leave Hong Kong tomorrow. What an interesting adventure it has been. I have met some wonderful people on this trip, most notably a couple from the mainland called Xun Wen and In Ge (or Wen and GeGe as they are known around the lab). They have been extraordinarily kind to me, inviting me out the play baketball, badminton, go to the beach, and even invited me around to their apartment in kowloon city for a home cooked dinner by Wen! Wen is also a great guitarist and we have made a few trips to local music stores as well as having a couple jam sessions ourselves. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to them for making sure I had a friend or two in this massive city.

Farewell Hong Kong, you are a magnetic city that people of all nations are pulled to and I know I’ll be pulled back here again someday.