Research Facilities

A10 Storm Penetrating Aircraft

Since the retirement of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (South Dakota Mines) storm-penetrating T-28 research aircraft in 2004, the national and international storm research communities have been without means of obtaining in-situ measurements of thunderstorm processes. In 2010 the National Science Foundation (NSF) took steps to remedy this. The NSF funded the Center for Interdisciplinary Remotely Piloted Aircraft Studies (CIRPAS) at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA, to requisition a Fairchild A-10 from the US Air Force. A year later, the USAF agreed to lend a mothballed A-10 to the US Navy. The NSF funds provided to CIRPAS will cover regeneration, reinforcement for storm penetration, and instrumentation for scientific research. Andy Detwiler, Donna Kliche, and other scientists and graduate research assistants at South Dakota Mines, will collaborate with CIRPAS to operate the aircraft as a national facility in support of national and international storm research projects.

Laboratory Facilities

The department has recently acquired a set of research-grade portable surface weather observing stations that measure temperature, moisture, pressure, solar radiation, wind speed, and wind direction. One of the stations also includes a tipping bucket rain gauge to measure rainfall. These stations provide students with hands-on experience collecting and analyzing weather data and can be deployed to study mesoscale weather patterns in the Black Hills region.

The atmospheric and environmental sciences department has a long history of numerical modeling expertise. To this end, we maintain a fleet of high-performance computing platforms capable of running state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction models such as the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research. This includes a high resolution forecast version of the WRF model being run in real-time for the Black Hills region in western South Dakota and versions of WRF adapted for regional climate and coupled hydrologic modeling. Additionally, the department has a Unix computer lab for student use; access to University of Colorado and NCAR supercomputing resources in collaboration with the USGS; a RAID server for data storage; and access to an LDM data feed that brings in real-time weather data from the National Weather Service for forecasting and research use.

Biogeochemistry Core Facility (BCF)

Being competitive in today's world of engineering requires keeping up with rapidly changing technology. The Biogeochemistry Core Facility contains modern, cutting-edge instrumentation to support student and faculty ecological and environmental research. Access to the BCF gives graduate and undergraduate students the tools needed to produce the highest-quality research, and the opportunity to acquire experience in operating some of today's most sophisticated analytical instruments.

The BCF Lab is an interdepartmental facility, funded in part by the following: NSF EPSCoR, SD Center for Biocomplexity, The Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences at South Dakota Mines, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, NSF Major Research Instrumentation, and PACE.

Lab Contacts

  • Dr. Lisa Kunza, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, Phone: (605) 394-2449; Fax: (605) 394-6061
  • Dr. James Stone, Dept. Head, Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Phone: (605) 394-2443; Fax: (605) 394-5171;   
  • Dr. Larry Stetler, Professor, Dept. of Geology and Geological Engineering, Phone: (605) 394-2464; 
  • Dr. Edward Duke, Professor/Manager of Analytical Services Engineering & Mining Experiment Station, Institute of Multi-scale Material Developments and Processes, Phone: (605) 394-2388; 


For information on the use of this equipment, please contact us at 605-394-2291 or Dr. James Stone at (605) 394-2443. 

Project Listing

  • Does Differential Nutrient Limitation Enhance Ecosystem Energy Throughput?  
  • Role of Tribal Ecological Knowledge in dealing with water quality violations and global environmental change  
  • Establishing a Biogeochemistry Core Facility  
  • Composition of communities of methane-oxidizing bacteria in soils of Ponderosa Pine forests and their response to wildfires (Co-PI, with D Bergman – BHSU)  
  • Heavy Metal Inhibition During Biological Fe(III) Reduction: The Effect of Natural Organic Matter  
  • Acquisition of equipment cluster to strengthen a multi-disciplinary regional Biogeochemistry Core Facility for research and training  
  • Acquisition of laboratory and field instrumentation

Education and Outreach

The BCF facilitates:

  1. Development and implementation of new courses in terrestrial and aquatic biogeochemistry 
  2. Better and efficient implementation of existing courses in CEE and IAS
  3. Research training of undergraduate and graduate students
  4. Development of enterprise teams on environmental issues
  5. Support implementation of ABET-mandated changes in engineering criteria to include environmental effects of engineering actions  


  1. Promote collaborations among regional institutions
  2. Enhance recruitment and retention of American Indian students at South Dakota Mines in science and engineering disciplines 
  3. Provide a facility to train high school teachers, (e.g. through RET) in environmental projects for enhancing the quality of high school education.
  4. Collaboration with local environmental companies