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In the Shadow of Fumigation Mountain

Sunday, August 5, 2018
In the Shadow of Fumigation Mountain
A foil boat carries powdered soil across Tinning Lake to the C:N analyzer in the shadow of infamous Fumigation Mountain, a microbe's worst nightmare

Time for phase three of my summer adventure! We took a sojourn from extractions to fumigate the soil and prepare it for C:N analysis. In fumigation, chloroform gas is used to kill off any sort of microbial life in the soil, after which more extractions will take place. To prepare the samples for C:N analysis, we first dried and ground the soil. Then I placed the powdered soil into tiny foil boats and painstakingly folded them closed so that no soil is lost. A tragic fate awaits these precious little cubes of foil enclosed soil. They will be dropped into a machine called the Elementar and then combusted to find the sample's C:N ratio. And so, without further ado, the journey continues...

The funnel canopy dropped away and we emerged from the test tube forest onto a wide open plain. In the distance was the infamous Fumigation Mountain, whose poisonous gases circulating within meant certain death to the soil microbes trapped in glass vial chambers. Tinning Lake lounged in the shadows of the mountain. A foil boat filled with powdered soil, ready for the C:N analyzer, carried us safely across. 

A glass container with glass vials of soil and poisonous gas inside
The real fumigation mountain in action
Rachel Sims

a look inside the large glass container holding vials of soil and a beaker
A look inside the real fumigation mountain, before the circulation of poisonous gas
Rachel Sims