The Arizona LaserChron Center is an NSF Community Facility that is designed to address problems in Earth Science through the generation of U-Th-Pb geochronologic data and complementary geochemical information by Laser Ablation ICP Mass Spectrometry. Our primary goals are as follows:
Generate U-Th-Pb ages, Hf isotope ratios, and trace element concentrations of the best precision, accuracy, and spatial resolution possible from LA-ICPMS.
Provide opportunities for researchers from around the world (and especially NSF-supported scientists) to use our instruments and expertise to address geologic problems.
Drive the development of new techniques and applications of geochronology, thermochronology, and petrochronology.
Build new cyberinfrastructure for data acquisition, analysis, and archiving.
Use every aspect of facility operation as an opportunity to increase access to geochronology and build diversity and expertise among geochronologists and users of geochronology.
The main instruments utilized at the Arizona LaserChron Center include a Nu Plasma multicollector ICPMS, a Thermo Neoma multicollector ICPMS (with CRC and MS/MS systems), a Thermo Element2 single-collector ICPMS, a Thermo iCAP RQ quadrupole ICPMS, a Teledyne Iridia laser and two Analyte G2 lasers, a Hitachi 3400N SEM, and a Renishaw Raman Spectroscopic system. We are currently preparing for installation of a new Thermo Neptune multicollector ICPMS.
Support for the Arizona LaserChron Center is provided by the NSF Instrumentation and Facilities Program (http://www.nsf.gov/geo/ear/if/facil.jsp). We operate as a Community Facility, available to all NSF-supported researchers and students as well as Earth scientists from around the world. During 2022 we supported the research of 386 collaborators, including 228 faculty, 93 graduate students, and 65 undergraduate students. 83 of these collaborators belong to under-represented minority groups. Results of this research were reported in 141 peer-reviewed publications during 2022.
Check out our Welcome Video to learn more about the ALC. Please contact George Gehrels (email@example.com) or Mauricio Ibanez-Mejia (firstname.lastname@example.org) (co-directors of the ALC) for general questions about the lab. Mark Pecha (Manager of the ALC; email@example.com) can provide specific information about analytical methods, schedules, costs, letters of collaboration, etc.
Please note that some links on our web page may not work if you are logged into other web systems -- just log out of other systems if you experience access issues.
We will be offering lab tours associated with the 2024 Winter Conference (https://icpinformation.org/winter-conference). A tour on Jan 16 will focus on Teledyne instruments -- here's a flyer for the event and a link to register. The tour on Jan 17 will focus on Thermo instruments -- here's a flyer for the event and a link to sign-up. Hope you can join us!
We are very excited to have added a Thermo iCAP and a Thermo Neoma (with MS/MS) this year. We have also acquired a Thermo Neptune, which will be installed in spring 2024. These instruments will help us meet the increasing demand for instrument time, improve the precision/accuracy of established methods, and provide opportunities to pursue a broad range of new applications (e.g., in-situ Rb/Sr geochronology, age/chemical mapping, and analysis of non-traditional stable isotopes). We're looking forward to sharing these new instruments and applications with you!
Our Imaging lab has recently been upgraded with the addition of a Renishaw Raman Spectroscopic system and new EDAX EDS and EBSD detector systems for our Hitachi 3400N SEM. These instruments, plus our Gatan Chroma CL2 color/UV system, are available for a broad range of applications. Our SEM web page describes our instruments and the types of analyses/images that can be generated. Please contact Tristan Nolan (firstname.lastname@example.org), manager of the SEM lab, for more information.
We have recently created a Researcher Checklist which outlines all of the suggested steps prior to, during, and following your session. Please have a look, and let us know if we have missed anything!
Please note that NSF requires us to document how ALC has supported your research. PLEASE help us gather this information by completing a Researcher/Project Form each time you interact with us. Note that your information is reported anonymously to NSF and will otherwise remain confidential.
We are also interested in your view of the quality of information and service provided by the ALC. Please complete our Assessment Form (also anonymous). Thanks for your input!
We encourage all researchers to come to the lab to generate the data for your projects. We are also able to host virtual or hybrid sessions, as described in our Covid-19 video. Please contact Mark Pecha (email@example.com) to explore these options.
We offered a two-day Short Course on geochronology, petrochronology, and thermochronology at the 2023 National Meeting of the GSA. Modules and recordings from our recent Short Courses are available from the Short Course link to the right.
We are interested in having you share your experience in conducting geochronologic research! Please chat with Dan Alberts (firstname.lastname@example.org) about recording a short presentation which will be posted on Instagram.
In an effort to enhance diversity/inclusion in geochronology, we are encouraging researchers to include one extra student from an under-represented minority in their visit to the ALC or during a remote session. We will cover all costs (e.g., travel, lodging, images, and analyses) for this student. Details about our "Plus One" program are available from the Analytical Costs link to the right.
We are pleased to have established a collaboration with Teledyne Technologies that focuses on developing new hardware, software, and applications for U-Th-Pb geochronology and related geochemistry by LA-ICPMS. A new Iridia laser system, equipped with a Cobalt cell and HDIP software, is available for demo visits. Please contact Mark Pecha (email@example.com) and Lucas Smith (Lucas.Smith@teledyne.com) for more information.
Please upload your data to Geochron.org!! We have streamlined the process such that it now takes just a couple of minutes per sample. Instructions are available from the Tools=>Geochron Uploading link to the right...
We are developing new MATLAB-based software tools that can be used for analyzing and visualizing geochronologic and complementary geochemical data. These tools can be accessed from the Analysis Tools links to the right.
Check out the growing set of videos on the LaserChron YouTube Channel. Presentations so far focus on methods for preparing/analyzing samples and for maintaining our NU ICPMS, Element2 ICPMS, and Teledyne lasers.
Need some zircon standards? We are able to provide buckets of FC-1 (Duluth Gabbro) zircon that has been collected from the original (Paces and Miller, 1993) outcrop. Buckets have been provided to 55 labs so far. We also provide sets of zircon standards that can help with instrument testing and validation. Each set contains 100 grains of ten different zircon standards that range from 28 Ma (Fish Canyon) to 3.5 Ga (OG-1). Sets have been shared with 110 different labs so far. Please contact George Gehrels (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more info.
For users of Thermo Element instruments, note that we have developed a routine that extracts information from dat files. This provides access to the raw counts for each measurement, resulting in more reliable data reduction than is possible from FIN2 files. The decoding routine is posted on GitHub, and more information is available in an article available from Archive.org.
If you are working on an NSF proposal, please contact Mark Pecha (email@example.com) for a letter of support. Information about our instruments and methods should be provided in your "Facilities, Equipment, and Other Resources" section, and is available from the Proposal Tools section (link to right). Financial information can be accessed from the Analytical Costs and Student Support links (to the right). We also have a Data Management Plan that can be modified for your project.
We continue to develop techniques that integrate U-Th-Pb geochronology, Trace and Rare Earth Element analysis, and Lu-Hf isotope geochemistry. We are able to conduct U-Th-Pb and T/REE analyses just using our Element2 (single-collector ICPMS) -- there is no need for split-stream analysis. U-Th-Pb, T/REE, and Lu-Hf can also be done simultaneously in split-stream mode, by connecting the Element2 with our Nu multi-collector ICPMS. But it is much more efficient (and cost-effective) to do the analyses in two different sessions given that most studies require many more U-Pb ages than T/REE or Hf isotope analyses. We accordingly recommend doing large-n U-Th-Pb first (with the E2 or NU), and then selecting optimal grains for T/REE and Hf isotope analyses.
We have developed a system for extracting zircons from fine-grained sediments (e.g., loess, siltstone), enabling analysis of zircons down to ~10 microns. The process relies on a series of ultrasonic baths for separating zircon from clay.
Information about ongoing projects, samples, costs, correspondence, etc. can be found at our Current Projects page (link to right). Note that secure sites are available on request.
Having issues with high Hg content during laser ablation analyses in your lab? You might try installing a gold trap similar to this design. We can provide the glass ends (at no charge) -- contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
"The University of Arizona is on the land and territories of the O'odham and Yaqui Native Nations"
Overview of Methods