Berkeley Lab
Bringing Science Solutions to the World

The Geosciences Measurement Facility

Within the Department of Energy national laboratory system, the Geosciences Measurement Facility is singularly capable of designing, building, testing, and deploying customized Earth and environmental science instrumentation. GMF engineers, scientists, and machinists work alongside their scientific research partners within GMF’s specialized fabrication and testing facilities at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and at field observatory sites worldwide. Through this partnering, GMF brings to life custom solutions that push the frontier of Earth science discovery.

For more than four decadesGMF has partnered with hundreds of researchers to develop advanced instrumentation, laboratory- and field-based sensing systems, and lab-to-field data measurement and telemetry solutions. These tools have been critical to addressing scientific questions and challenges surrounding ecosystem health; watershed function; atmospheric systems; carbon sequestration; agriculture and bioenergy; oil, gas and geothermal resources; ocean behavior; and hazardous material storage and disposal. GMF instrumentation solutions have repeatedly enabled new scientific discoveries that might otherwise have remained out of reach using standard off-the-shelf measurement solutions.

GMF experts are often involved in each and every stage of the design and development process – from problem analysis and conceptual design, through field deployment and quality assurance. This integrated approach is exemplary of Berkeley Lab’s multidisciplinary team science that has enabled numerous scientific discoveries since the Lab’s founding by Ernest O. Lawrence in 1939. GMF instrumentation solutions have contributed to hundreds of peer-reviewed science publications and have been recognized with multiple R&D100 awards.

Local & Global Instrumentation Solutions

For the past 45 years, GMF has been involved in over 250 Earth science projects spanning more than 75 field sites located in the United States and throughout the world.

GMF supports approximately 65 percent of projects in the Earth & Environmental Sciences Area at Berkeley Lab, representing contributions to over 500 scientific publications.

Custom solutions developed at GMF enable multi-scale scientific observations within and across all Earth system compartments:

Atmospheric – Terrestrial – Subsurface – Ocean

The instruments and systems borne from the collaboration between GMF scientists, engineers, and machinists and the research teams they serve address the needs of exploration into all Earth system compartments, including subsurface, terrestrial, atmospheric, and ocean systems, often taking place amid extreme temperature and pressure environments. These solutions address measurement scales ranging from benchtop lab studies to vast field observatory distances.

GMF Design Cycle

GMF experts support every stage of custom instrumentation engineering, design, and deployment, from analysis of the most challenging measurements to continuous refinement of instrumentation packages for reliable lab and field experimentation.

The staff at GMF deploys to the field with their research partners to deploy the instruments, acquire data, perform QC data checks, and provide round-the-clock support for field operations that may be located anywhere on the planet.

Capabilities & Solutions

  • Measurements in Extreme Environments
  • Custom Circuit Board Design
  • Software-enabled Data Acquisition
  • Hardware-Electrical-Software Integration
  • Field Testing and Deployment
  • Quality Assurance / Quality Control
  • Subsurface-Surface-Atmosphere-Ocean
  • Prototyping & Rapid Testing/Iteration
  • Sensor Design & Fabrication
  • Conceptualization and CAD Design
  • Networked Sensor Packages
  • CNC Precision to Large-scale Apparatus
  • Autonomous Seismic Sources
  • Multimodal Data Acquisition
  • IoT Wireless Data Transmission
  • Acoustic Measurements
  • Planar and Tomographic Imaging
  • GPS-enabled Instrumentation
  • Subsurface Electrical Conductivity
  • Subsurface Fluid Sampling
  • Hydraulic Actuators
  • Bio-Environmental Sensors
  • Lab-to-Field Telemetry
  • Above & Below Ground Signal Integration

Selected Equipment

* Fiber interrogators: Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS) / Distributed Acoustic Sensing (DAS) / Distributed Strain Sensing (DSS)
* Specialized helical fiber cables; fiber in metal tubing; hybrid fiber wireline

* Discrete acoustic 3-component optical sensors
* Fiber sensors for fracture monitoring
* Surface fiber array installations

* Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) recording/processing systems
* GPR surface antennas 50MHz to 1200MHz

* GPR borehole antennas 100 and 250MHz

* Multi-level sensor arrays: Hydrophones/ Locking-arm geophones / Accelerometers / Fiber arrays on tubing or behind casing
* Continuous Active Source Seismic Monitoring (CASSM) piezoelectric sources

* Borehole orbital vibrator sources
* High voltage IGBT source amplifiers
* U-tube fluid sampling with multi-level packer systems

* Wireline trucks (up to 12,000 ft)
* Generator trailers (60kW, 25kW)
* Recording/processing trucks
* Off-road SUV / crew-cab trucks

* Ground conductivity meters
* Electrical resistance tomography (ERT) systems
* Electrode cable strings and switchboxes
* EM transmitter/receiver pairs
* Magnetometers
* Soil Moisture Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR) system
* Thermocouple probe arrays

* GPS Base stations with transmitter/repeater
* RTK-GPS rovers
* Handheld marine GPS
* Tablet synched GPS

* High-resolution digitizers (96-,48-, 24-, 6- and 3-channel recorders)
* Environmental measurement and control loggers
* Radio data telemetry systems
* Remote/oceanographic systems operation via satellite
* UAV-Drone instrumentation

* Satellite phones
* Solar arrays
* Radio telemetry arrays
* Portable quadrupole mass spectrometers
* Gas mass flow controllers