We do fundamental and applied research on the use of geochemical systems in addressing questions across the breadth of the geosciences. Areas of particular emphasis include igneous geochemistry, seawater-rock interaction at ocean ridge hydrothermal systems, heavy metal and pollutant transport, investigation of early life, mass extinction events and life in extreme environments, climate variability and change from ice cores, atmospheric chemistry and biogeochemical cycles, the investigation of geomorphic processes especially in the polar regions, and geochronology of geomorphic surfaces.
State of the art instrumentation and facilities are housed in several laboratories:
- In the QRC/Astrobiology Stable Isotope Laboratory: Four gas-source mass spectrometers for routine analysis of C, N, O, H, S isotope ratios in organic materials, carbonates, water and atmospheric gases (e.g. N2O, CH4), and for development of novel analysis techniques.
- In the Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory: a thermal ionization mass spectrometer used primarily for isotopic analyses of Sr, Nd and Pb, and for high-precision analyses of selected trace elements, and a multi-collector ICP-MS for analyses of radiogenic (e.g., Hf, U-series, Pb, Nd) and stable metal (e.g., Li, Fe, Zn, Cu) isotope analyses.
- In the Cosmogenic Isotope Laboratory, state of the art facilities for preparation of samples for accelerator mass spectrometry measurements of cosmogenic isotopes including 36Cl, 10Be, and 26Al.
- In the QRC soils/aqueous geochemistry laboratory, an ICP-OES (inductively coupled argon plasma optical emission spectrometer) for total elemental analysis of water and extracted samples; a laser-diffraction particle size analyzer for soils and sediments (for particles from 40 nm to 2 mm); and a total organic/inorganic carbon analyzer for water samples for carbon concentrations to 5 ppb or higher.