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Subsurface Biogeochemical Research Program

DOE User Facilities Enabling Science

Empowering an international community of scientists with the most advanced technologies

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science oversees the construction and operation of some of the nation's most advanced scientific user facilities, located at national laboratories and universities. These include particle and nuclear physics accelerators, synchrotron light sources, neutron scattering facilities, supercomputers and high-speed computer networks, nanoscale science research centers, genome sequencing facilities, and advanced resources in imaging and analysis for biological and environmental systems. Guidelines for submitting proposals for access to these facilities are available from the individual centers.

Presented below are descriptions of some of the most important facilities for the Subsurface Biogeochemical Research (SBR) program.

Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

EMSL Campus
A pine tree root surrounded by a soil fungus imaged by EMSL’s scanning electron microscope and colorized.

By co-locating more than 150 premier experimental instruments and systems with supercomputing capabilities, EMSL is able to make multiple types of capabilities available to single investigators or multidisciplinary teams to study and model molecular to mesoscale hydrobiogeochemical processes. EMSL, located at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, has helped thousands of researchers use a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to iterate between theory and experiment to solve important challenges in biogeochemistry and subsurface science, biological interactions and dynamics, and interactions at the interfaces of natural and engineered materials. EMSL’s Terrestrial and Subsurface Ecosystems (TSE) Science Theme focuses on the dynamics of nutrients, metabolites, and contaminants at biogeochemical interfaces in heterogeneous environments across multiple scales.

Joint Genome Institute (JGI)

DOE Joint Genome Institute
ETOP Microfluidics Device [Roy Kaltschmidt, Berkeley Lab]

Sequencing more than one trillion DNA base pairs per year, DOE JGI in Walnut Creek, California, provides state-of-the-art capabilities for genome sequencing and analysis. With more than 1,100 worldwide collaborators on active projects, DOE JGI is the preeminent facility for sequencing plants, microbes, and microbial communities that are foundational to energy and environmental research. DOE JGI’s Community Science Program (CSP) is designed to bring high-throughput sequencing to the scientific community at large.

High-Performance Computing and Data Storage Facilities

DOE provides the SBR community with several high-performance computing and data storage facilities. 

The Molecular Science Computing (MSC)  capability within EMSL provides an integrated production computing environment that supports a wide range of computational activities in environmental molecular research. DOE’s Environmental Systems Science Data Infrastructure for a Virtual Ecosystem (ESS-DIVE) provides an archive for subsurface and terrestrial ecosystem science data.

High Performance Computing and Data Storage Facilities

The DOE Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research (ASCR) supports several Office of Science user facilities for high-performance production computing and data storage. Access to the production computing systems and data storage capabilities are available through several processes. ASCR facilities include:

Synchrotron Light Sources

Structural Biology Resources

Synchrotron light sources at DOE national laboratories enable resolution of the structure of matter from the cellular level down to the atomic and molecular level using approaches not possible with conventional instrumentation. SBR’s primary synchrotron-based research efforts are located at the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).

The ANL Iron and Sulfur Biogeochemistry in Redox Dynamic Environments Scientific Focus Area elucidating the interplay among microbial metabolic activities, solution chemistry, and mineralogy contributing to element and contaminant transformation.

The SLAC Groundwater Quality Scientific Focus Area  advancing predictive understanding of uranium subsurface biogeochemistry, fate, and transport.

Biomolecular Characterization and Imaging

Structural Biology Resources

This infrastructure provides user access to beamlines and instrumentation for high-resolution studies of biological organisms and molecules for all areas of life sciences research. Synchrotron facilities produce intense beams of photons, from X-rays to infrared to terahertz radiation, while neutron facilities produce beams using particle accelerators or reactors. The beams are directed into experimental stations housing instruments configured for specific biological investigations. Capabilities of and contact information for each station are described at https://www.berstructuralbioportal.org.

Contact Information

Office of Biological and Environmental Research
U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science

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