The NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility at the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in East Kilbride was established in 2004 to provide cosmogenic radionuclide analytical facilities to the United Kingdom scientific community. Analysis of the long-lived cosmogenic radionuclides 10Be, 26Al and 36Cl provided by the CIAF can be used to determine surface exposure ages and denudation rates on timescales of 103 - 106 years, which yield fundamental information about rates of landscape evolution.

Cosmogenic nuclide inventories also contribute fundamental information towards understanding paleoclimates and climate system studies, tracing oceanic circulation, and assessing natural hazards, which tie into the sustainability of local, regional, and global economies. These areas are central to the Strategic Science Themes (Climate System, Natural Hazards, and Earth System Science) and Research Areas (Earth Science, Marine Science, and Polar Science) underpinning current and future NERC strategy.

Located on the same site as the NERC Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) Recognised Facility at SUERC , the CIAF’s purpose is to produce chemically separated samples for measurement by AMS and to provide final results from AMS analysis. The establishment of this facility recognises the rapidly growing demand for cosmogenic isotope data from researchers in geomorphology, Quaternary science, and allied areas of the Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Detailed coverage of the technical aspects of cosmogenic isotope analysis can be found in:

Gosse, J.C. and Phillips, F.M. (2001) Terrestrial in situ cosmogenic nuclides: theory and application. Quaternary Science Reviews 20, 1475-1560,

and more specific to CIAF sample preparation methods, in:

Wilson, P., Bentley, M.J., Schnabel, C., Clark, R., and Xu, S., (2008) Stone run (block stream) formation in the Falkland Islands over several cold stages, deduced from cosmogenic isotope (10Be and 26Al) surface exposure dating. Journal of Quaternary Science 23 (5), 461-473.

A review of geomorphological applications is provided by

Cockburn, H.A.P. and Summerfield, M.A. (2004) Geomorphological applications of cosmogenic isotope analysis. Progress in Physical Geography 28, 1-42.

A useful summary of the major applications of cosmogenic isotopes can be found in a series of articles in a special issue on cosmogenic techniques in the journal Elements, Volume 10 issue 5 (October 2014) at:

CIAF scientific support is generally of a collaborative, rather than service, nature. The NERC Cosmogenic Isotope Analysis Facility offers chemical preparation of samples and AMS measurement. Currently there is capability for chemical separation of cosmogenic 10Be and 26Al in quartz, and for cosmogenic 36Cl in calcite or basalt. Chemical separation for 10Be from minerals other than quartz is being developed. AMS measurement can currently be provided for 10Be, 26Al, and 36Cl. CIAF has an "open-door" policy for all existing and potential users of its facilities at all stages of their research projects, and laboratory visits and collaboration are strongly encouraged.


The next deadline for applications to the NERC-CIAF
Steering Committee will be Wednesday 5th April, 2017.

(NB. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted)

Applications and guidance notes can be downloaded  from the How to apply page.

The CIAF-SC meets twice a year, and the deadlines for applications are usually in April and October each year.


The ‌CIAF 2013-2014 annual report  is now available to download.