Analytical Facilities


The newly established NICEST (Northumbria Isotope and Clumped geothermometry for Environmental Studies) lab at the Department for Geography and Environmental Sciences boasts state of the art instrumentation and expertise.

Clumped isotopes

Our Nu Instruments Perspective IRMS (AKA Tony) is utilised predominantly for clumped isotope measurements. It features an automated 50 sample acid reaction system, coupled with a cryo-cooled trap for purifying analyte CO2. The automated prep system and dual inlet input is capable of measuring samples as small as 20 µg for stable isotopes, with a standard error below 0.01 ‰. Exceptional instrument linearity minimises the need for post measurement corrections.

Image: Sevi Modestou

Stable isotopes in carbonates

For stable isotope measurements, the lab is equipped with a Thermo Delta V Advantage Gas Source IRMS, interfaced with a ConFlo IV, and Gasbench II on-line gas preparation system (aka Dr Octopus).

Image: Sevi Modestou

We have recently installed a Sercon XYZ autosampler (aka Heimdallr) for offline helium flushing of carbonate samples prior to analysis. Heimdallr is capable of flushing batches of up to 240 samples, doubling our throughput.

Image: Stuart Umbo

Isotope analysis of non carbonates

Our Thermo Delta V is interfaced with a PreCon Trace Gas Pre-concentrator, a Flash 2000 Elemental Analyser (The Flash), and an LC Isolink liquid chromatography unit. Using various configurations, we can perform continuous flow analyses of C, H, O, and N isotopes in a variety of natural materials, including carbonates, methane, air, soils, and peat.

Our lab also features a Los Gatos Research Isotopic Water Analyser (AKA Storm), capable of measuring up to 130 liquid and vapour water samples per day for δ17O, δ18O and δ2H.

Image: Stuart Umbo

Our newest edition is Vision, an Olympus SZX10 Trinocular Stereo Microscope with DP23 Digital Camera, which allows high resolution layered imaging of microfossils.

Image: Stuart Umbo

SYP Fluid autosampler

SYP is a portable fluid autosampler that can be deployed at the most challenging of locations. Low power usage enables sub-weekly sampling over year-long deployments using just AA batteries. It has a fully adjustable sample and rinse schedule, as well as humidity, temperature, and air pressure sensing. Here it is on deployment in Scotland. We look forward to taking it out to Siberia in the new year!

Image: Sebastian Breitenbach


ISOLAB at AWI Potsdam utilizes state of the art facilities for stable H, O, C, N isotope measurements of the Quaternary polar regions.

Water isotope analysis

AWI boasts three Finnigan MAT Delta S Mass spectrometers for use in analysis of oxygen and deuterium isotopes in water. Each instrument is coupled with two equilibrium units, allowing concurrent measurement of both water and ice samples.

In addition, ISOLAB features three Picarro cavity ringdown spectrometers (L2120i, L2140i, and L2130i models) for analyses of oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in microlitre samples of water in solid or liquid phase.

Image: Levent Vorpahl

Additional stable isotope facilities

Additional alalytical options are achieved with a ThermoFisher Delta-V Mass Spectrometer, coupled with a ConFlo IV gas mixing system, Flash EA 2000 Autosampler, and Elemental Analyzer for measurement of stable C and N stable isotopes in sediment and other organic matter.

A PDZ Europa 2020 Mass Spectrometer with a coupled self-constructed laser fluorination line allows for analysis of stable oxygen isotopes in biogenic silica samples such as diatoms, radiolaria, and sponge spicules.

Image: Levent Vorpahl

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