Rare Gas Laboratory

Principle Investigator: Professor Robert J. Poreda

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The Rare Gas Laboratory is a state of the art facility for researching volatile compositions of geological, environmental, and planetary materials. We use a VG 5400 rare gas mass spectrometer fitted with a Faraday cup and a Johnston electron multiplier. A Dycor Quadrupole Gas Analyzer is attached to the same vacuum lines. This arrangement allows for analysis of noble gas isotopes as well as bulk gas composition.

The laboratory is designed for precise measurement of noble gas concentration and isotopic composition in natural waters, sediments, geothermal and volcanic gases, hydrocarbon and crustal gas deposits, and extraterrestrial material including meteorites and interplanetary dust particles.

We measure tritium concentrations in natural and contaminated waters by the 3He in-growth technique. This can determine the age of groundwater and model shallow subsurface groundwater transport.

Volatile content and noble gas isotopes of volcanic and geothermal gases can reveal the

Research focuses on noble gas isotope systematics including He, Ne, Ar and Xe.


Tom Darrah using the rare gas mass spectrometer