Our main analytical facility is the WashU Noble Gas Laboratory. To see photos of how the lab was built, click here. Noble gases are unique geochemical tracers, in that they do not participate in reaction chemistry. Rather, noble gas isotopic compositions are primarily affected by radioactive decay of assorted parent isotopes on a variety of timescales.
High-temperature isotope geochemistry studies have long focused on radiogenic isotope systems, such as U-Pb, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd and Hf-W. We expand the radiogenic isotope toolbox to include constraints from noble gas isotope systematics. Using state-of-the-art multicollector mass spectrometry, high-precision measurements may shed new light on topics such as the state of the early Earth, and chemical exchange between deep Earth and surface reservoirs.
Our new gas extraction/purification line provides samples gas to the Nu Noblesse HR 5F5M noble gas mass spectrometer. The laboratory is fully automated using the National Instruments cRIO platform to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Sample Preparation and Wet Chemistry
Our sample prep and wet chemistry labs are used to process, clean, and separate rock or mineral samples for geochemical analysis. Rock preparation equipment includes a mini jaw crusher, a disk mill, and a sieve shaker.
A new stereo microscope with built-in camera for hand-picking of mineral separates.
Building the Noble Gas Lab
Constructing the gas extraction and purification line from scratch took a lot of effort! Here are snapshots of how it came together.