Facilities

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The Applied Geochemistry Group maintains the following analytical instrumentation for chemical and isotopic analyses on solid, liquid, and gaseous samples:

Chemical Analyses

An Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (Perkin-Elmer Aanalyst 100) for concentration analyses on cations including Na, K, Ca, Mg, Fe, Li, Mn, Si, Sr, Ba, Pb, Au, Ag, Pt, Pd and Zn

A Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (Perkin-Elmer HGA-800) for trace concentration analyses on cations including Pb, As, Cd, Cr, Zn, Ba, Mg, Ca, Na, K, Sr and Ag

A Column Supression Ion Liquid Chromatograph (Dionex ICS 2000) for concentration analyses on anions including Cl, Br, F, NO3, PO4 and SO4

A Liquid Chromatograph (Waters) for concentration analyses on organic acids including formic acid, acetic acid, propionic acid, n-butyric acid, iso-butyric acid, n-valeric acid and iso-valeric acid

A Gas Chromatograph (Varian Star 3600 CX) for general purpose analysis.

A Varian CP4800 Portable Gas Chromatograph for field and lab analysis of hydrocarbon gases (CO2, CH4, C2H6, He etc.)

An Orion Autochemistry 960 Autotitrator for analyses of total bicarbonate in solution

Isotope Analyses

  • Thermo Finnigan Delta V (aka Vathi) with Elementar vario ISOTOPE cube

This newly installed instrument (Fall 2013) is used for carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur isotope analysis of solid samples. The ISOTOPE cube elemental analyzer peripheral uses a unique purge and trap method for C, N, H, S analysis of a single sample. The mass spectrometer has been equipped with a special collector array for the simultaneous analysis of SO2 and SO, which allows for oxygen isotope effects to be corrected for during analysis.

  • Thermo Finnigan Delta V (aka Kioni) with Gasbench

This newly installed (Fall 2013) instrument is a multi purpose instrument which has been setup to run isotopic analyses of waters, carbonates, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) and nitrates. The Gasbench is used along with the equilibration method for oxygen and hydrogen isotope analysis of waters. Carbon and oxygen isotope analysis of carbonates using the phosphoric acid digestion is also conducted on the Gasbench. Eventially site-specific nitrogen isotope analysis of nitrates will also be performed by simultaneously analyzing N2O and NO.

  • Thermo Finnigan MAT 253 (aka Quadra) with GC Trace Ultra + GC Isolink

For compound specific carbon and hydrogen isotope analysis (e.g. δ13C and δD (δ2H) of alkanes, δ13C and δ18O of CO2, etc.). In addition, a dual inlet sample introduction system allows for the analysis of gas samples prepared offline. Compound specific isotope analysis provides unique insights into elemental cycling and fingerprinting in specific organic compounds. For carbon isotope analysis samples are injected into the Trace GC where they are volatized, then separated by gas chromotography before they are combusted in a furnace to create CO2 which is then analyzed by the mass spectrometer. For hydrogen isotope analysis samples undergo similar GC followed by pyrolysis into H2.

  • Thermo Finnigan Delta V (aka Pyro) with PreCon + GC

For triple oxygen isotope and nitrogen isotope analysis of nitrates. This instrument is equipped with a modified PreCon which allows for the analysis of oxygen and nitrogen isotopes in nitrates. Nitrate samples are innoculated into a bacterial culture which consumes the nitrate and produces N2O (see SIgman et al., 2001 for more info). N2O is then decomposed in a gold oven to create N2 and O2 which are separated and concentrated in the GC-PreCon system before analysis in the mass spec.

  • Thermo Finnigan DeltaPLUSXL (aka Uno) with HEKAtech Pyrolysis, TC/EA, and NA1500 EA

This instrument is equipped with several peripherals capable of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur isotope analysis of solid and gas samples. The HEKAtech is used to pyrolyze (thermally decompose without oxygen) samples at higher temperatures than theTC/EA, which is useful for the analysis of phosphates and florinated compounds. The TC/EA also pyrolyzes samples at slightly lower temperatures and is useful for oxygen isotope analysis of briny waters and sulfates. Fisons NA1500 elemental analyzer is used for sulfur isotope analysis of both sulfides and sulfates.

  • Thermo Finnigan DeltaPLUSXL (aka Alaska) with Costech EA

The workhorse. This instrument is used for carbon and nitrogen analysis of solid samples. Soils, fertilizers, sediments, organic matter, ammonia, etc. Samples are combusted to create CO2 or N2 which is then analyzed in the mass spectrometer.

  • Los Gatos Research Water Isotope Analyzer

This laser based instrument is used for hydrogen and oxygen isotope analysis of waters. The instrument uses the Cavity Ringdown Spectroscopy (CRDS) technique to determine the isotopic composition spectroscopically as opposed to traditional mass spectrometry.

  • Picarro CO2/CH4 Isotope Analyzer

Also a laser based instrument utilizing the same CRDS technique for carbon isotope analysis of carbon dioxide and methane samples at near ambient concentrations.

Other Analytical Capabilities

The Applied Geochemistry group has access to analytical capabilities on the University of Calgary campus and elsewhere to conduct:

  • Complete mineralogical characterization of rock samples including whole rock analysis (XRD, XRF, ICP-MS), Electron-Probe Microanalysis, and semi-quantitative mineral normative calculations
  • Hydrogen and oxygen isotope analyses on water samples
  • Sulfur isotope analyses on solid, liquid, and gaseous samples