Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer Laboratory

TIMS Laboratory
The climate controlled subroom housing the PhoeniX62 TIMS instrument, viewed from the control room. 

Welcome to the TIMS laboratory

The Princeton radiogenic isotope geoscience lab was completed in the summer of 2011 and took shipment of a IsotopX PhoeniX62 Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer (TIMS) in late September 2011. Following months of cleaning and blank measurement, we began doing high-precision U-Pb geochronology on zircons and other accessory minerals with sub-picogram Pb blanks, which is currently the focus of the lab's work. Please check out the publications from our group to see what we've been working on.  We also now have received another PhoeniX62, in spring 2019, which is equipped with ATONA amplifier boards, which are specialized for both ultra-low as well as high intensity Faraday measurements.  We are currently testing those to see what we can do with small U-Pb measurements.

TIMS geochronology is combined with available analytical equipment within the department of Geosciences, such as the ICP-MS lab run by Prof. Higgins, and a plethora of mineral separation and imaging facilities available within the department and on campus, including scanning electron microscopes (hosted at PRISM) capable of cathodoluminescence imaging quantitative geochemical characterization. 



Did volcanoes kill the dinosaurs? New evidence points to ‘maybe’
March 4, 2019
Written by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Fact: About 66 million years ago, at the end of the Cretaceous period, 75 percent of plant and animal species went extinct, including the dinosaurs (except those that evolved into birds). Fact: About 66 million years ago, an enormous asteroid or comet hit the Earth near what is now Chicxulub, Mexico, throwing rock, dust and water vapor into the atmosphere. Fact: About 66 million years ago, a massive volcano erupted lavas in India that are now called the Deccan Traps, burying much of the subcontinent under more than 11,000 feet of basalt (lava rock) and pouring poisonous gases into the atmosphere.
A stochastic sampling approach to zircon eruption age interpretation
Oct. 2, 2018
Written by C.B. Keller, B. Schoene and K.M. Samperton
Our new paper, published in Geochemical Perspective Letters, demonstrates a new, less sobujective, method of calculating volcanic eruption ages from high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronologic data. Brenhin Keller has made the software, written in both julia and C, freely available. He also includes on his site, as part of Chron.jl, software for carrying out Bayesian modeling useful for generating age models in stratigraphic sections given geochronologic data and uncertainties. This model is similar to previous approaches for age modeling, but here can be run in tandem with the zircon age distribution modeling highlighted in the paper.
From crystals to climate: New ‘gold standard’ timeline connects volcanic eruptions to climate change
Sept. 19, 2018
Written by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications
Grad student Jenn Kasbohm just published her work dating the Columbia River Basalts in Science Advances. The Princeton Press Release was also picked up by various news sites, such as Science Daily and