Arizona Noble Gas Lab Overview

The Arizona Noble Gas Laboratory (ANGL) at the University of Arizona is dedicated to analyzing all stable noble gas (He, Ne, Ar, Kr, Xe) abundances and their respective isotopic ratios in a variety of fluids, rocks and minerals, including freshwater (groundwater, surface water, rainwater), brines, shale gas, and gas from hydrothermal systems.

The laboratory is equipped with two Thermo Scientific mass spectrometers recently acquired and funded by the National Science Foundation Instrumentation and Facilities Program; a Helix MC+ for measurement of all stable noble gas isotopes, and an Argus VI for measurement of the concentrations and isotopic compositions of Ar. The Helix MC+ will be using an extraction and purification line dedicated to water and rock/mineral samples into routine service with a double-head cryotrap. The fluid noble gas extraction and purification line is equipped with 2 loading ports for groundwater samples. Mineral and rocks extractions and purification are handled on a separe bench including crushers, induction furnace, and diffusion cell furnace. The system includes a double-head cryotrap which allows for simultaneous separation of He and Ne in a “low-temperature” chamber while Ar, Kr and Xe are separated in the “high-temperature” chamber. The purification system includes 6 titanium sponge getters in total.

The Helix MC+ is specifically designed to analyze in multi-collection mode with 5 CDDs and 5 Faradays cups, where separate detectors can measure different isotopes simultaneously. Multi-collection in the Argus VI is also used for measurement of Ar isotopes. Once the gases have been extracted from a sample, all clean up and cryogenic separation procedures are handled by a fully automatic computer controlled system. The computer that controls the automation and the extraction benches runs under LabView which allows the user to also fully manually control the system. The entire system is designed by multi-threaded control software from the LabView computer, which allows for gas processing and data collection on the extraction bench and the mass spectrometers. The ANGL is also equipped with a pre-built Thermo extraction and purification line with a CO2 laser for fusing samples for measurement of 39Ar/ 40Ar in minerals and rocks for geo- and thermochronology studies. The Argus and prep line are controlled by Pychron software, which is also used for data analysis and interpretation.

External Services

Collaborative and commercial measurements of all stable noble gases are available on a fee basis to recover consumables and instrument use. For information on analysis costs, please contact Prof. Peter Reiners (