Acquisition of a State-of-the-Art 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology System for the AGES Lab at Lamont-Doherty
Analytical facilities for dating geological materials are important for education, research and economic and petroleum geology exploration. The AGES (Argon Geochronology for Earth Sciences) laboratory at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory was established in 1997, and actively contributes to all of these goals working with both academic and industry colleagues. This award will provide funding to acquire a new-generation noble gas mass spectrometer and pumps for its extraction line to set up a state-of-the art instrument for high precision measurements of Argon isotopes that permit dating of geological materials. This improved capability provides extraordinary opportunities for improving our understanding of Earth's history of climate variability, biological evolution and mountain-building processes. The training of students in analytical procedures and geochronology methods will be greatly enhanced by access to state-of-the-art instrumentation. Over the past several years, the advent of a new generation of noble gas mass spectrometers for Ar-Ar dating is greatly improving the precision with which small samples can be analyzed. Such improvements are critical for the goal of sequencing Earth History with a seamlessly integrated Ar-Ar : U-Pb : astrochronology time-scale and for probing important events in Earth's history such as extinctions, dramatic climate changes and evolutionary pathways. This funding will allow the purchase of a state-of-the-art noble gas instrument as well as peripheral parts for building an extraction line for introducing samples to the instrument. The AGES lab at LDEO has been an active participant in EARTHTIME activities that are dedicated towards the goal of accurately sequencing Earth history. The upgrade that will come from the acquisition of this new generation of instrument will transform the ability to continue to be actively involved in EARTHTIME while also continuing to train students and post docs and serve a large collaborative user base.