NERC Argon Isotope Facility
Infrastructure and Service
The NERC AIF is hosted by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), which with the NERC Radiocarbon Laboratory, ICSF, CIAF and the Accelerator Mass Spectrometer (Recognised Facility) form a unique cluster of analytical facilities for Earth and environmental sciences.
A defining feature of the cluster is its position as a dating centre of excellence, with radiometric, geochemical (bomb-test, Sellafield, Chernobyl fallout; stable lead isotopes etc), and physical (luminescence) dating methods useful on timescales ranging from several years to billions of years.
The Scottish Universities noble gas isotope laboratory is adjacent to the AIF laboratory. It houses similar analytical equipment (MAP 215-50) and similar gas extraction and clean-up systems, as well as a quadrupole mass spectrometer-based system for (U-Th)/He dating. This creates a suitable intellectual ambience for the AIF and its visitors, but also opportunities for cross-calibration of dating techniques that are unrivalled.
At least 68% of the analytical capacity of the 40Ar/39Ar geochronology laboratory at SUERC is available to approved users of the AIF. In practice this has exceeded 85% over the past 5 years.