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SUERC Noble Gas Laboratory

SUERC Noble Gas Laboratory

The laboratory has been specifically designed for the measurement of cosmogenic Ne-21 and He-3 in rocks and minerals from the Earth surface. Our main focus is the determination of surface exposure ages and erosion rates that are essential for determining the external drivers of long-term landscape evolution, quantifying glacial histories and the duration of sediment burial as well as the rate of sediment transport and storage.  The techniques can also be applied to exposure dating of other planetary body surfaces, for instance for determining the time that meteorites were released from their parent bodies and the processing rate of the lunar surface. The cosmogenic noble gas nuclides are often determined in combination with the common radionuclides to provide robust chronological constraints on long term surface processes.


The laboratory is equipped with two Thermo Scientific mass spectrometers; a Helix-SFT optimised for the measurement of cosmogenic He and an ARGUS VI that has been modified for cosmogenic Ne isotope analysis.  The noble gases are extracted from 1-100 mg of mineral separates by heating to >1300°C using a 75 W 800 nm diode laser. The gases are purified in automated ultra-high vacuum systems and separated prior to analysis by a series of cryogenic traps. Sample preparation is done in house. Mineral composition and trace element analysis done using the SUERC SEM and ICPMS facilities.


The SUERC Noble Gas Laboratory is led by Prof. Fin Stuart, cosmogenic He and Ne measurements are undertaken by Dr. Luigia DiNicola.

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