The UVM Environmental Stable Isotope Laboratory was established
with EPSCoR funds in 1991. It has since then been expanded with funds from
UVM and NSF. The facility is housed in the Department of Geology and has
become a central and essential tool for several ongoing and planned interdisciplinary
research programs at the University of Vermont.
Facilities and Instrumentation
The laboratory is presently equipped with a VG/Fisons SIRA series II stable
isotope ratio mass spectrometer. The mass spectrometer is able to analyze
stable isotopes of C, O, N, and S. Two gas extraction lines are used for
the preparation of the gas samples needed for the isotopic analysis of carbonates
(CO2), organic materials (CO2, N2), natural waters (CO2), and sulfates and
sulfides (SO2). A CE NC 2500 elemental analyzer has recently been interfaced
to the mass spectrometer allowing for online analysis of C and N isotopes
in organic materials.
The VG SIRA II isotope ratio mass spectrometer with PRO-VAC Services
20-Port Manifold and CE NC2500 elemental analyzer
Sample preparation line
The use of natural abundance isotopes as tracers in environmental, biological,
and ecological research has evolved rapidly during the last few years. In
particular, the development of stable isotope mass spectrometry has revolutionized
the ability to pose and answer previously unapproachable questions of how
interactions between biological and geological processes define the Earth's
environment. As a consequence, isotope analysis is becoming a standard tool
for geologists, biologists, ecologists and all scientists studying elemental
or material cycles in the environment as well as global climate and environmental
Current laboratory activities focus on (but are not limited to) the analysis
The laboratory is used both as a teaching and research facility allowing
students and researchers to make use of this modern analytical tool in their
- Oxygen isotopic composition of natural waters (precipitation, groundwater,
rivers, lakes) by equilibration with CO2.
- nitrogen and carbon isotope ratios of organic materials (e.g., plants,
soil, plankton, sediments) by offline Dumas combustion in qtz tubes or online
combustion in a CE NC 2500 elemental analyzer.
- carbon and oxygen isotopic composition of carbonate materials by reaction
with 100% H3PO4.
A graduate student preparing water samples for d18O analysis
The facility operates on a cost-recovery basis, assessing fees to cover
supplies and use of equipment. The facility is also available for contract
The UVM Environmental Stable Isotope facility is directed by Dr.
Andrea Lini, Associate Professor and Chair for the Department of Geology.
If you are interested in the use of the stable isotope laboratory for your
research, Dr. Lini can be reached by calling (802)-656-0245 or by e-mail.
Address Correspondance to:
Dr. Andrea Lini
Department of Geology,
Delehanty Hall, Room 319
Trinity Campus, 180 Colchester Avenue
University of Vermont
Burlington, VT 05405-1758
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