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.
NERC CIAF is part of the National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF) group of scientific support and facilities that provides collaborative support for a broad range of stable and radiogenic isotope methodologies applied to the Earth Sciences, with particular emphasis on geochronology and environmental studies.
If you are eligible for a NERC training award or research grant, you can apply for access to these facilities. You can find out more about your eligibility by reading section C of the NERC research grants handbook. Before submitting your application, it is important that you first seek the advice of staff at the relevant facility.
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. 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 SUERC AMS Laboratory, the CIAF’s purpose is to produce chemically separated samples for measurement by the AMS scientists and to provide results from nuclide ratios. The establishment of this facility recognises the 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 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: http://www.elementsmagazine.org/archives/index.html
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 data interpretation. 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. The SUERC AMS Laboratory currently provides 10Be, 14C, 26Al, and 36Cl analysis. 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 Monday 7th October, 2019.
(NB. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted)
Applications and guidance notes can be downloaded from the How to apply page.
The NEIF-SC meets twice a year, and the deadlines for applications are usually in April and October each year.