National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF)

Lead Research Organisation: Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)
Department Name: SUERC


The National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF) is an evolution of facilities that builds upon a strong track record of NERC facilities for environmental isotope analyses. This single nationally distributed facility comprises a range of analytical capabilities and staff expertise for isotope analyses that underpins an array of multidisciplinary, cross themed, environmental science areas. NEIF capabilities are subdivided into two categories: Chronology and Environmental and Life Science Tracers. Combined, these support research in the areas of biogeochemistry, archaeology, palaeoclimatology and climate change, solid Earth processes (inc. natural hazards), human-landscape evolution and interactions (inc. the Anthropocene), evolution of life, ecology, pollution, the hydrological cycle, applied minerals and energy research.


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Description Radiocarbon dating is the most versatile technique for scientists seeking to precisely date the timing of events and rates of processes in the history of humans and earth systems over the last 50,000 years. Natural abundance and 'bomb' radiocarbon also have wide applications in quantifying the movement of carbon in the environment. The NERC Radiocarbon Laboratory (a component of NEIF- National Environmental Isotope Facility) is internationally recognised and supports, participates in and initiates globally competitive science. This provides a comprehensive service for the NERC research community, including Universities and NERC Centres (e.g. BGS, CEH, BAS, NOC) across a wide range of science areas, including Earth, Marine, Terrestrial and Freshwater, Atmospheric and Polar Science and Science-based Archaeology:

• Expertise across a wide spectrum of radiocarbon techniques & applications
• Specialist advice at all stages of projects from project inception, applications and grant proposals, field sampling, sample storage and preparation, to data interpretation and publication
• Technical developments, often developed collaboratively, to provide leading edge and unique research opportunities to UK researchers
• Access to state-of-the art equipment, including cutting-edge AMS analytical equipment (the newly-installed MICADAS and PIMS technology)
• Training of students and visiting researchers, including project-customised practical laboratory experience and residential radiocarbon courses
Exploitation Route The Facility exists to provide analytical support and scientific expertise for NERC approved projects throughout the UK. Therefore all the findings relate to these projects (c 50-60 per year). The Facility also continuously develops new methods in order to provide UK scientists with cutting-edge techniques for the radiocarbon applications in their projects. Examples include compound-specific amino-acid dating for archaeological bones, novel sampling methods to enable NERC science in otherwise inaccessible, remote and challenging environments, and speciation of organic carbon in complex environmental matrices via techniques available in only a very few (or no) other locations worldwide.
Sectors Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections