Earth Systems Stable Isotope Laboratory


The CUBES-SIL is a stable isotope analytical core facility housed in the Department of Geological Sciences at CU Boulder. The facility is co-directed by Profs. Katie Snell and Sebastian Kopf, and managed by Dr. Ashley Maloney.

The available analytical equipment includes three magnetic sector, gas-source, isotope ratio mass spectrometers designed to measure the relative abundance of stable isotopes of light elements and molecules. These measurements have many applications in numerous scientific disciplines, including earth sciences (paleoclimate, paleoecology, geobiology, hydrology, diagenesis and metamor- phism), ecology, forensics, planetary sciences, microbiology, food science and agriculture, and many more.

The main CUBES-SIL instruments used for organic geochemistry research by the Kopf Lab include a Thermo GC-FID, GC-MS, and a 253+ IRMS configured for continuous flow mode and equipped with a gas chromatography online combustion/pyrolysis interface that allows for compound-specific carbon and hydrogen isotope measurements. This instrument is optimized for the isotopic characterization of mixtures of organic molecules at trace quantities (~10ng per compound for carbon, ~100ng per compound for hydrogen) which provides powerful information for paloeclimate research, forensic analysis, ecological isotope tracing, and many other organic chemistry applications.