Facility: W. M. Keck Foundation Laboratory for Environmental Biogeochemistry

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Function: Analytical/Synthesis

Department: Earth and Space Exploration, School of


This facility provides analytical capabilities to measure light stable isotope ratios (H, C, N, O, and eventually S) by IRMS, radiogenic (Hf, Sr, Nd, Pb) and mass-dependent isotopes (Ca, Cr, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, Zr, Mo, Cd, Hg, Pb, U) by MC-ICP-MS and elemental concentrations (row 3 and above) by Q-ICP-MS. Mass spectrometers include a Thermo Electron DeltaPlus Advantage (IRMS), a MAT 253 (IRMS), a Thermo Electron X-Series with CCT (Q-ICP-MS) and a Thermo Electron Neptune (MC-ICP-MS), . Users are trained to run their own samples and process the results with lab supervision. Some of the peripheral devices available include an Elemental Analyzer, TC/EA, Gasbench, Dual Inlet, TIC/TOC analyzer, and some accessories. There is also a trace-metal clean lab which may be available for sample preparation. Users are encouraged to get involved with method development to expand the analytical applications available here.

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Resources (16)

OI Analytical TOC Analyzer

Thumb The TOC analyzer is used to determine the total amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in an aqueous sample.

Costech Elemental Analyzer

Thumb The Costech EA was originally developed for the determination of elemental composition of a sample. This device generates CO2 from carbon, N2 from nitrogen, H2O from hydrogen, and SO2 from sulfur (special furnace packing is needed for this element). The sample gases are chromatographically separated using a PoraPlot column and then individually passed over a TCD detector and quantified. The effluent is then vented from the room. For isotope analysis, some modifications are made. H2O is a terrible compound to get into an isotope ratio mass spectrometer. Hence, a magnesium perchlorate water trap is used to remove water from the gas stream. The effluent from the instrument is sent to a Conflo Interface so that a small amount of this gas stream is sent to the mass spectrometer for isotopic analysis. With the EA we can thus measure 13C, 15N, and 34S isotope ratios. It must be remembered that this instrument works by pulsing some O2 into a hot (1020°C furnace) for combustion. Hence we cannot measure oxygen isotopes with this device. The most common sample types we look at with the EA are soils, plant matter, and organic matter collected onto quartz filters.

Gas Chromatography-Combustion (GC-C) and Gas Chromatography-Thermal Conversion (GC-TC) Mass Spectrometer

Thumb The GC-C/TC is for compound-specific analysis of C, N, O, and H in various matrices

GasBench and Heating Block

Thumb The GasBench is plumbed into the MAT 253 for use for either carbonate C and O analysis or headspace gas analysis.


The prepFAST is a fully automated chromatography system that isolates elements of interest from the sample matrix and collects multiple discrete fractions for precise isotopic analysis.

Quadrupole ICP-MS (iCAP Q)

The iCap-Q ICP-MS allows rapid measurement of metals, rare earth elements, and some major element concentrations in a wide variety of sample types and over a large dynamic range.

Technical assistance (gIRMS)

Technical assistance with all aspects of IRMS

Technical assistance, Tier 1 (ICP-MS)

Hourly rate for assistance with lower-level tasks (sample dilution, ball milling)

Technical assistance, Tier 2 (ICP-MS)

Hourly rate for assistance with data reduction, instrument operation or data interpretation

Technical assistance, Tier 3 (ICP-MS)

Scientific consultation, method development

Thermo Delta Plus

Thumb The Thermo Delta Plus Advantage is a smaller magnetic sector mass spectrometer. Ours has no H collectors and is limited to C, N, O, and S analysis. It has a smaller magnet than the MAT 253 and a 3KV ion source.

Thermo MAT 253

Thumb The Thermo MAT 253 is a magnetic sector mass spectrometer with a 10KV high sensitivity ion source.

Thermo Neptune ICP-MS

Thumb The Thermo Neptune MC-ICP-MS is designed for high-precision isotope ratio analyses of much of the periodic table and has high mass resolution to resolve polyatomic interferences from the analytes of interest.

Thermochemical Elemental Analyzer (TC/EA)

Thumb The TC/EA is coupled to a MAT 253. This instrument has faraday cups for hydrogen so that we can measure both H and O isotope ratios of waters and solids.

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