Clumped isotope thermometry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Earth Sciences


The use of dual clumped isotopes of oxygen and carbon (D47 and D48) is a cutting-edge analytical method to estimate palaeotemperatures with excellent potential for solving a wide variety of problems. The student will be involved in the development and refinement of this new analytical approach to the measurement of triple oxygen (16O, 17O, 18O) and carbon (12C, 13C) isotopes in small samples of CO2 produced from carbonate minerals.

They will use a new mass spectrometer in the Godwin Laboratory at Cambridge which has recently been purchased, with support from EPSRC, specifically for this application. This is a Case studentship and the student will work directly with the and the industrial co-supervisor and other application specialists and engineers in the instrument company's laboratories in Wrexham to improve and refine the necessary hardware (ion source and electronics), computer control, sample preparation and data processing software to optimise the precision and accuracy of the measurement of delta47 and delta48.

The increased precision and accuracy resulting from these developments in the analytical science will ensure that the accuracy of temperature estimates for minerals are significantly better than previously attainable. The student will validate the importance of this approach by applying the dual clumped isotope method to a selection of important applications for the study of past climate and the physiology of extinct organisms. This wil involve using a variety of techniques (e.g., SEM, cathodoluminescence, trace elements) to carefully evaluate and select samples prior to isotope analysis in order to avoid those affected by alteration/burial diagenesis.

This multidisciplinary project draws on expertise of supervisors in Cambridge (palaeoclimatolgy, palaeobiology) and at Nu Instruments (analytical science).


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/S007164/1 30/09/2019 29/09/2027
2568780 Studentship NE/S007164/1 30/09/2021 30/03/2025 Christian Thomas Baker