Argon Isotope Facility (AIF)

Lead Research Organisation: NERC British Geological Survey


The NERC Argon Isotope Facility (AIF) provides facilities to determin the age and rates of geological processes and help address a range of problems including global climate change, volcanic hazards and biological evolution. The 40K-40Ar clock is one of the most widely used radiometric dating methods, and is capable of determining the age of rocks that are less than two thousand years old and the age of meteorites that are older than the Earth (> 4.5 Ga). The Argon Isotope Facility offers the capability to determine 40K-40Ar and 40Ar/39Ar ages. The facility was established in response to community demand and provides access for UK geoscientists to a comprehensive suite of analytical equipment dedicated to Ar isotope determinations in both rocks and minerals. It is hosted by the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC), East Kilbride, and benefits from complementary technical and academic expertise provided by in-house technical and academic staff, in particular those from noble gas, stable and radiogenic isotope laboratories. The Argon Isotope Facility has the most extensive range of gas extraction techniques and analytical tools in the UK, and aims for flexibility and versatility of service. These techniques allow age determinations of rocks/minerals, and high spatial resolution in situ dating.


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Barfod D (2014) Argon extraction from geological samples by CO 2 scanning laser step-heating in Geological Society, London, Special Publications

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Ellis B (2013) Rhyolitic volcanism of the central Snake River Plain: a review in Bulletin of Volcanology