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Experiment 14: Determination of the Cause of a “Fish Kill” in the Clark Fork of the Columbia

A Self-Directed Experiment
Tina Tran
Julie Tang
Section 125
October 8, 2013

For this experiment, we will analyze a water sample from the Clark Fork of the Columbia
River in Montana where a major fish-kill occurred in 1984. Using a spectrometer, the water
sample will be analyzed for the presence of Group IA and Group IIA metal ions. These metal
ions contribute to water salinity which may cause fish-kills. Our objective is to identify the
metals present in the water to determine which metal concentrations reach the point of being
a threat to aquatic life.
This experiment is conducted because it can prevent future fish-kills. Performing this
experiment will be beneficial towards aquatic life because it will be able to determine the
maximum concentration of salinity before it has surpassed a degree of dangerous toxicity for
the fish in rivers. Conducting this experiment will be important in the process of protecting fish
populations from cautionary environments.
List of Chemicals (Reagents)
A. Standard 0.5 M NaCl solution
B. Standard 0.5 M LiCl solution
C. Standard 0.5 M KCl solution
D. Standard 0.5 M CaCl
E. Standard 0.5 M BaCl
F. Standard 0.5 M SrCl
G. Standard Fe/Cu solution containing 400 ppm Cu
and 400 ppm Fe
in SCN
H. 0.1 M iron(III) nitrate solution (already mixed with SCN
I. 0.1 M copper(II) nitrate solution (already mixed with SCN
J. Simulated Clark Fork of the Columbia River Water Sample
Experimental Procedure:
1. Obtain an emission spectrometer, wire, plate, and Bunsen Burner.
2. Light and adjust the Bunsen Burner enough that the flame will be parallel to the height
of the detector in the Spectrometer, placing them at least a few inches apart.
3. Turn on the station of your MeasureNet
4. Prepare each solution in a different plate, filling the plate about halfway.
5. Take one of the solutions and hold it under the Bunsen Burner
6. Hold the wire near the blue interior part of the flame and wait until it has reached a red-
orange color, signifying that the wire is free of extraneous variables.
7. Quickly place the wire into the solution in your plate under the flame in a way that the
solution’s gas can reach the flame and hold it until the color has stopped shifting.
8. Record the wavelength of the flame that was sent to your MeasureNet
9. Repeat this process with each of the concentrations on the plates.
10. Before each trial, the wire is required to be heated in the flame until it has reached a
red-orange color to ensure it does not have any of the previous solution still on it.
Using the Emission Spectrometer, determine the wavelength given off by the flame of
each of the solutions listed above.

Atwood, Charles H., Bobby Stanton, and Lin Zhu. Experiments in General Chemistry
Featuring Measurenet. 2nd ed. Mason: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.