Noble gas mass spectrometers

The VIEPS Ar-Ar Laboratory currently operates two instruments for dating of geological materials using the 40Ar/39Ar chronometer via furnace or laser step-heating analysis:

  • A new generation, fully automated multi-collector Thermo Fisher Scientific Argus VI mass spectrometer that permits high-precision 40Ar/39Ar dating of a wide variety of sample types, including Pleistocene/Holocene-aged samples of low-K content. This instrument is linked to a Photon Machines Fusions 55W 10.6 CO2 laser system, enabling high-precision step-heating of single grains or bulk samples. Specifications as follows:
    • Mass spectrometer volume ~700 cm3; Gas extraction/purification line volume ~240 cm3
    • Sensitivity: ~3.55 × 10-17 moles/fA
    • Five high-gain Faraday detectors (two with 1012 Ω resistors, three with 1013 Ω resistors) and one CDD detector
    • Analytical precision: <0.1% for most samples
  • A VG3600 mass spectrometer connected to a double-vacuum niobium resistance furnace and a Synrad Firestar v40 W CO2 laser system. Step-heating of bulk samples or single grains is possible (depending on sample age). Specifications as follows:
    • Mass spectrometer + gas extraction (furnace)/purification line total volume: 2,600 cm3
    • Sensitivity: ~4.00 × 10-17 moles/mV
    • Daly detector
    • Analytical precision: <1% for most samples

Equipment is operated and maintained at the highest standard.

Other facilities and services

In addition to 40Ar/39Ar geochronology services, we also offer mineral separation, thin sectioning, petrographic characterisation, and electron microprobe sample characterisation.