Laboratory Facilities and Equipment

We have everything you need to go from rock samples to publishable datasets. Whether you're doing the work yourself or need help in the lab we've got you covered.


Laboratory Instrumentation

Agilent 7700x Quadrupole ICP-MS

The Agilent 7700 quadrupole mass spectrometer offers great stability and sensitivity with low operating costs. Fast stabilisation times allows for the rapid acquisition of data across a wide range of masses. Laser ablation and solution sample introduction through the integrated autosampler and peltier-cooled spray chamber allows for diverse applications. We routinely use the Agilent 7700 to measure U/Pb ratios for U-Pb zircon geochronology and use isotope dilution mass spectrometry to quantify actinide concentrations in whole grains for U-Th-Sm/He dating.

Applied Spectra Resolution LR Laser Ablation System

Fully automated laser ablation system employing a 193 nm excimer laser. We have two ablation cells; 1) a Lauren-Technic design M50 flow-through cell , and 2) a UHV cell connected to the Alphachron helium line to do cutting edge laser ablation U-Th-Sm/He thermochronometry. Excellent stage repeatability and automation allow for long automated sequences to be performed with no operator input, facilitating time-intensive operations such as large-n detrital zircon geochronology and trace element mapping.

Applied Spectra Alphachron He Mass Spectrometry Line

Automated He extraction and measurement system with diode laser chamber for the degassing of whole mineral grains. Low and stable blanks allow for the measurement of very small quantities of He while an internal 3He tank allows for the elimination of instrumental drift by external standardization. Connection to our Resolution laser-ablation system via a Laurin Technic ultra-high vacuum ablation cell facilitates our cutting edge LA-AHe method.

Zygo ZeScope Optical Profilometer

Optical interferometer for the quantification of surface roughness and topography. With a vertical resolution ~2 nm and a variety of objective lenses and magnifications the profilometer can measure everything from very small (a few 100 µm) to large (a few cm2) areas. Applications include the measurement of volume of material eroded from a surface, the roughness of fracture surfaces in cores, the surface roughness of materials from glass to corneas and the quantification of ablation pit volume. Automated data acquisition and processing streamlines data acquisition.

Zeiss AxioImager M2m with Autoscan

Fission-track analysis is conducted using a Zeiss AxioImager M2m microscope equipped with transmitted and incident light, digital camera and a motorized x-y-stage system from Autoscan. This setup allows fission-track counting on the microscope as well as on the live image on the computer screen. The motorized microscope together with the TrackWorks program allow us to measure the lengths of tracks that are not horizontal to the sample surface.
We regularly conduct apatite and zircon FT dating on bedrock, basin strata and modern sediment.

Laboratory Equipment and Facilities

Mineral Separation Facilities

We have a fully-equipped mineral separation facility with a Bico Chipmunk jaw crusher, Bico disc mill, water table, a variety of heavy liquids and a Frantz Isodynamic separator. Minerals can be separated by the researcher or can be prepared by our trained mineral separation technicians. An outline of our methodology is available in Matthews et al. (2017).

Sample Preparation, Picking and Packing

We are well-equipped to make a variety of mineral mounts for use in U-Pb geochronology, thermochronology and for trace-element measurements. This includes random dump-mounts of zircon and apatite as well as qualitative mounts for geochronological applications. Having our own polishing equipment (hand polishing and using our STRUERS machine) means no delays moving from mounting to measurement. For (U-Th)/He whole-grain dating we have a collection of binocular microscopes for grain selection and packing. 

Acid Digestion Equipment and Supplies

We maintain a set of Parr acid digestion vessels and have appropriate acids to digest most mineral phases required for (U-Th)/He dating. We generally follow the methods outlined by Evans et al. (2005)