Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry


Stable isotope analysis can provide powerful tools for water science research. Changes in the isotopic composition of compounds can be predicted from physical laws. Natural variations of the abundance of isotopes of hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen can help researchers discover the origin and flow of these elements in the environment. Some applications of stable isotope analysis related to water science research have included:

  • Tracers of contaminant sources and water movement in the hydrosphere
  • Distinguishing natural from synthetic sources of chemicals
  • Aquatic food web and food chain studies
  • Uptake and use of water, nitrogen, and carbon in plants
  • Nutrient cycling in aquatic and soil environments
  • Sources of water, carbon dioxide and methane
  • Paleoclimatology and hydrology
  • Determining biological and chemical reaction rates and pathways
  • Tracing migration patterns in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems

Equipment Used for Stable Isotope Analysis Includes:

  • Micromass OPTIMA dual inlet isotope ratio mass spectrometer
  • Analytical Precision Products, Ltd. AP2003 continuous flow isotope ratio mass spectrometer
  • Three all glass high vacuum systems for preparation of samples for nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen isotope analysis
  • Two automated sample preparation systems for rapid analysis of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen isotope analysis
  • GVI Continuous Flow Isoprime Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer with Eurovector 3028HT Solids EA and PyrOH Liquids EA (HD in water)
  • Dual Inlet Isoprime Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer with MultiPrep Automated Sample Preparation System (New in 2007!)

WSL Equipment

The Water Sciences Laboratory is well known for nitrogen isotope analysis of nitrate and ammonia which can be used to help determine the sources of these chemicals in ground water.

Contact Dan Snow (402-472-7539) if you have questions about sample requirements or other types of analysis that are not listed in the brochure.