IRMS Applications
    in Research

A world of applications

Find out how IRMS is applied across many research themes

Our customers use our instruments to do some amazing research. Across a diverse array of applications, they apply stable isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) analysis to understand the micro and macro cycling of the light bio elements carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and sulfur via complex chemical, physical and biological processes.

We take a great interest in our customers research and we are proud that they further the collective understanding using our array of instrumentation. With over 600 IRMS instruments being used around the world, there is a vast amount of published literature available but here you will find just some of those citations that have recently been produced using our IRMS systems. 

If you would like to discuss how IRMS might be able to help your research and would like to talk to one of our technical specialists, or if you have used our IRMS instruments in one of your publications which is not in our database and like to add it, then please feel free to contact us.


824 results:

Hydrogeochemical and isotopic tracers for identification of seasonal and long-term over-exploitation of the Pleistocene thermal waters
Environmental Monitoring and Assessment (2016)
Nina Rman

The aim of the study was to develop and test an optimal and cost-effective regional quality monitor- ing system in depleted transboundary low-temperature Neogene geothermal aquifers in the west Pannonian basin. Potential tracers for identification of seasonal and long-term quality changes of the Pleistocene ther- mal waters were investigated at four multiple-screened wells some 720 to 1570 m deep in Slovenia. These thermal waters are of great balneological value owing to their curative effects and were sampled monthly between February 2014 and January 2015. Linear cor- relation and regression analyses, ANOVA and Kolmogorov–Smirnov two-sample test for two indepen- dent samples were used to determine their seasonal and long-term differences. Temperature, pH, electrical con- ductivity, redox potential and dissolved oxygen did not identify varying inflow conditions; however, they pro- vided sufficient information to distinguish between the four end-members. Characteristic (sodium) and conser- vative (chloride) tracers outlined long-term trends in changes in quality but could not differentiate between the seasons. Stable isotopes of δ18Oand δ2Hwere used to identify sequential monthly and long-termtrends, and origin and mixing of waters, but failed to distinguish the difference between the seasons. A new local paleo- meteoric water line (δ2H= 9.2*δ18O+ 26.3) was outlined for the active regional groundwater flow system in the Pannonian to Pliocene loose sandstone and gravel. A new regression line (δ2H=2.3*δ18O– 45.2) was calculated for thermomineral water from the more isolated Badenian to Lower Pannonian turbiditic sandstone, indicating dilution of formation water.Water composition was generally stable over the 1-year period, but long-term trends indicate that changes in quality occur, implying deterioration of the aquifers status.
Tags: hydrogen , oxygen , geol , gashead

Processes governing the stable isotope composition of water in the St. Lawrence river system, Canada.
Isotopes in environmental and health studies (2016)
Eric Rosa, Claude Hillaire-Marcel, Jean-François Hélie, Alexandre Myre

Linkages between δ(18)O-δ(2)H and hydrological processes have been investigated from isotopic time series recorded in the St. Lawrence River basin. Three stations were monitored from 1997 to 2008. They include the Ottawa River, the St. Lawrence River main channel at Montreal and the fluvial estuary. All sites depict seasonal isotopic cycles characterized by heavy isotope depletions during the snowmelt period and heavy isotope enrichments throughout the ice-free period. The data define δ(2)H-δ(18)O regression lines falling below the meteoric water line. In the Ottawa River, calculations suggest that approximately 8 % of the total inflow to the basin is lost through evaporation. In the St. Lawrence River main channel, seasonal isotopic fluctuations most likely reflect hydrological processes occurring within the Great Lakes and mixing with tributaries located downstream. In the St. Lawrence River fluvial estuary, isotopic data allow partitioning streamflow components and suggest that the recorded seasonal variations mainly respond to mixing processes.

Sulfur and carbon geochemistry of the Santa Elena peridotites: Comparing oceanic and continental processes during peridotite alteration
Lithos (2016)
Esther M. Schwarzenbach, Benjamin C. Gill, Esteban Gazel, Pilar Madrigal

Ultramafic rocks exposed on the continent serve as a window into oceanic and continental processes of water–peridotite interaction, so called serpentinization. In both environments there are active carbon and sulfur cycles that contain abiogenic and biogenic processes, which are eventually imprinted in the geochemical signatures of the basement rocks and the calcite and magnesite deposits associated with fluids that issue from these systems. Here, we present the carbon and sulfur geochemistry of ultramafic rocks and carbonate deposits from the Santa Elena ophiolite in Costa Rica. The aim of this study is to leverage the geochemistry of the ultramafic sequence and associated deposits to distinguish between processes that were dominant during ocean floor alteration and those dominant during low-temperature, continental water–peridotite interaction. The peridotites are variably serpentinized with total sulfur concentrations up to 877ppm that is typically dominated by sulfide over sulfate. With the exception of one sample the ultramafic rocks are characterized by positive δ34Ssulfide (up to +23.1‰) and δ34Ssulfate values (up to +35.0‰). Carbon contents in the peridotites are low and are isotopically distinct from typical oceanic serpentinites. In particular, δ13C of the inorganic carbon suggests that the carbon is not derived from seawater, but rather the product of the interaction of meteoric water with the ultramafic rocks. In contrast, the sulfur isotope data from sulfide minerals in the peridotites preserve evidence for interaction with a hydrothermal fluid. Specifically, they indicate closed system abiogenic sulfate reduction suggesting that oceanic serpentinization occurred with limited input of seawater. Overall, the geochemical signatures preserve evidence for both oceanic and continental water–rock interaction with the majority of carbon (and possibly sulfate) being incorporated during continental water–rock interaction. Furthermore, there is evidence for microbial activity that was possibly stimulated by carbon sourced from water–rock interaction with adjacent sediments or fluid inclusions. This study provides detailed insight into the complex hydrothermal history of continental serpentinization systems and adds to our understanding of the carbon and sulfur cycling within peridotite-hosted hydrothermal systems.

The Impact of Climate, Sulfur Dioxide, and Industrial Dust on δ 18 O and δ 13 C in Glucose from Pine Tree Rings Growing in an Industrialized Area in the Southern Part of Poland
Water, Air, & Soil Pollution2 (2016)
Barbara M. Sensuła

The mass spectrometric analysis of the impact of sulfur dioxide and dust emission on carbon and oxygen stable isotopic compositions of glucose hydrolysed from α-cellulose samples extracted from Scots pine growing in the vicinity of “Huta Katowice” steelworks was the main aim of this study. The annual rings covered the time span from 1975 to 2012 AD. The relationships between climatic conditions, sulfur dioxide, and industrial dust emission and oxygen and carbon isotopic compositions were analyzed using correlation function methods. This study shows the first analysis of carbon and oxygen stable isotopes in glucose as the bio-indicators of CO2, sulfur dioxide, and industrial dust emission. The anticoincidence trend of δ18O and δ13C and dust and sulfur dioxide confirms that the decreases of dust and sulfur dioxide industrial emission increase δ18O and δ13C values in glucose.

Coupling of marine and continental oxygen isotope records during the Eocene-Oligocene transition
Geological Society of America Bulletin (2016)
Nathan D. Sheldon, Stephen T. Grimes, Jerry J. Hooker, Margaret E. Collinson, Melanie J. Bugler, Michael T. Hren, Gregory D. Price, Paul A. Sutton

While marine records of the Eocene-Oligocene transition indicate a generally coherent response to global cooling and the growth of continental ice on Antarctica, continental records indicate substantial spatial variability. Marine Eocene-Oligocene transition records are marked by an ~+1.1{per thousand} foraminiferal {delta}18O shift, but continental records rarely record the same geochemical signature, making both correlation and linking of causal mechanisms between marine and continental records challenging. Here, a new high-resolution continental {delta}18O record, derived from the freshwater gill-breathing gastropod Viviparus lentus, is presented from the Hampshire Basin, UK. The Solent Group records marine incursions and has an established magnetostratigraphy, making it possible to correlate the succession directly with marine records. The V. lentus {delta}18O record indicates a penecontemporaneous, higher-magnitude shift (>+1.4{per thousand}) than marine records, which reflects both cooling and a source moisture compositional shift consistent with the growth of Antarctic ice. When combined with "clumped" isotope measurements from the same succession, about half of the isotopic shift can be attributed to cooling and about half to source moisture change, proportions similar to marine foraminiferal records. Thus, the new record indicates strong hydrological cycle connections between marine and marginal continental environments during the Eocene-Oligocene transition not observed in continental interior records.

Hydrothermal flake graphite mineralisation in Paleoproterozoic rocks of south-east Greenland
Mineralium Deposita (2016)
Nanna Rosing-Schow, Leon Bagas, Jochen Kolb, Tonči Balić-Žunić, Christoph Korte, Marco L. Fiorentini

Flake graphite mineralisation is hosted in the Kuummiut Terrane of the Paleoproterozoic Nagssugtoqidian Orogen, south-east Greenland. Eclogite-facies peak-metamorphic assemblages record temperatures of 640–830 °C and pressures of 22–25 kbar, and are retrogressed in the high-pressure amphibolite-facies during ca. 1870–1820 Ma. Graphite occurs as lenses along cleavage planes in breccia and as garnet-quartz-graphite veins in various metamorphic host rocks in the Tasiilaq area at Auppaluttoq, Kangikajik, and Nuuk-Ilinnera. Graphite contents reach >30 vol% in 0.2–4 × 20 m wide semi-massive mineralisation (Auppaluttoq, Kangikajik). Supergene alteration formed 1- to 2-m-thick and up to a 2.5 × 2.5 km wide loose limonitic gravel containing graphite flakes in places. The flake size ranges from 1 to 6 mm in diameter with an average of ~3 mm. Liberation efficiency is at minimum 60%. Hydrothermal fluids at ~600 °C, transporting carbon as CO2 and CH4, formed the mineralisation commonly hosted by shear zones, which acted as pathways for the mineralising fluids. The hydrothermal alteration assemblage is quartz-biotite-grunerite-edenite-pargasite-K-feldspar-titanite. The δ13C values of graphite, varying from −30 to −18‰ PDB, indicate that the carbon was derived from organic matter most likely from metasedimentary sources. Devolatilisation of marble may have contributed a minor amount of carbon by fluid mixing. Precipitation of graphite involved retrograde hydration reactions, depleting the fluid in H2O and causing graphite saturation. Although the high-grade mineralisation is small, it represents an excellent example of hydrothermal mineralisation in an eclogite-facies terrane during retrograde exhumation.

Distributions of highly branched isoprenoid alkenes and other algal lipids in surface waters from East Antarctica : further insights for biomarker-based paleo sea-ice reconstruction
Organic Geochemistry (2016)
Lukas Smik, Simon T Belt, Jan L Lieser, Leanne K Armand, Amy Leventer

The occurrence and variable abundance of certain di- and tri-unsaturated C25 highly branched isoprenoid (HBI) biomarkers in Antarctic marine sediments has previously been proposed as a possible proxy measure of paleo sea-ice extent in the Southern Ocean. In the current study, we obtained 47 near-surface (ca. 0–10 m) water samples taken from locations in East Antarctica with different sea ice settings and analysed them for their HBI, sterol and fatty acid content. Sampling locations ranged from the permanently open-ocean zone (POOZ), with no seasonal sea-ice cover, the near-shore summer sea ice zone (SIZ), where sea ice remains long into the summer melt season, and the marginal ice zone (MIZ), located between the POOZ and the SIZ, and with a highly variable latitudinal sea-ice edge throughout the season. A di-unsaturated C25 HBI (diene II) was only identified in surface waters from the MIZ and the SIZ, consistent with a sea-ice diatom origin for this biomarker. In contrast, a tri-unsaturated C25 HBI (triene III) was detected in all samples from the POOZ, the MIZ and the SIZ, and with a stable isotopic composition (δ13C = –35 ± 1.5‰) consistent with a phytoplankton source. The highest concentrations of diene II and triene III were in samples from the SIZ and the MIZ, respectively, thus providing further insights into the sea-ice conditions likely favourable for their production and how their relative abundances (the II/III ratio) in underlying sediments might be better interpreted for paleo sea-ice reconstruction. In this respect, relatively high II/III might be a good indicator of extended (into summer) seasonal sea-ice cover, while lower II/III may provide a better indicator of the MIZ. However, the observation of highly variable II/III within the polynya setting of the SIZ may also have 4 significant impacts on sedimentary values. Distributions of diatom sterols and fatty acids were also variable between the three sampling zones, but these were not as distinctive as those observed for the HBIs
Tags: carbon , ocea , clim , gaschrom

Characteristics of the infestation of Seriatopora corals by the coral gall crab Hapalocarcinus marsupialis Stimpson, 1859 on the great reef of toliara, Madagascar
Symbiosis (2016)
Lucas Terrana, Guillaume Caulier, Gildas Todinanahary, Gilles Lepoint, Igor Eeckhaut

This study describes the association between the obligatory symbiont coral gall crab Hapalocarcinus marsupialis and its stony coral hosts Seriatopora sp. within the Great Reef of Toliara in Madagascar and attempts to discuss their symbiotic status through comparison with previous studies. These corals are inhabited by crabs living in galls that can be categorised in four distinct morphological stages, where the first one corresponds to a small bud and the last one represents a completely closed gall surrounding the crab inside. Within the reef, 563 colonies of Seriatopora species were observed by scuba-diving at ten different stations: 37.8 % of them were infested by H. marsupialis, with a total of 763 galls, and with a majority of stage 4 galls. Galls are monopolised by females that can have different morphologies. Females store the sperm in two spermathecae and are fertilised when their morphology and size are similar to males and the gall is not closed. Histological observations coupled with scanning electronic microscopy analyses show that closed galls are made of an external living tissue, a mid skeletal layer and an internal living tissue. The internal living tissue includes polyps similar to the external tissue, some of them being sexually mature. Nitrogen and carbon isotopic signatures confirmed that these crabs are filter-feeders and do not feed on their host. This association perfectly highlights the difficulties to define the symbiotic status of a symbiont if one considers inflexible the three categories of symbiosis commonly defined.
Tags: carbon , nitrogen , ecol , elem

Temporal Uncoupling between Energy Acquisition and Allocation to Reproduction in a Herbivorous-Detritivorous Fish.
PloS one (2016)
Francisco Villamarín, William E Magnusson, Timothy D Jardine, Dominic Valdez, Ryan Woods, Stuart E Bunn

Although considerable knowledge has been gathered regarding the role of fish in cycling and translocation of nutrients across ecosystem boundaries, little information is available on how the energy obtained from different ecosystems is temporally allocated in fish bodies. Although in theory, limitations on energy budgets promote the existence of a trade-off between energy allocated to reproduction and somatic growth, this trade-off has rarely been found under natural conditions. Combining information on RNA:DNA ratios and carbon and nitrogen stable-isotope analyses we were able to achieve novel insights into the reproductive allocation of diamond mullet (Liza alata), a catadromous, widely distributed herbivorous-detritivorous fish. Although diamond mullet were in better condition during the wet season, most reproductive allocation occurred during the dry season when resources are limited and fish have poorer body condition. We found a strong trade-off between reproductive and somatic investment. Values of δ13C from reproductive and somatic tissues were correlated, probably because δ13C in food resources between dry and wet seasons do not differ markedly. On the other hand, data for δ15N showed that gonads are more correlated to muscle, a slow turnover tissue, suggesting long term synthesis of reproductive tissues. In combination, these lines of evidence suggest that L. alata is a capital breeder which shows temporal uncoupling of resource ingestion, energy storage and later allocation to reproduction.

Soil organic carbon content affects the stability of biochar in paddy soil
Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment (2016)
Mengxiong Wu, Xingguo Han, Ting Zhong, Mengdong Yuan, Weixiang Wu

Recalcitrant biochar application appears to be a promising method to decelerate global warming through increasing long-term carbon sequestration in soil. Stability of biochar carbon (C), which is the major determining factor of C sequestration effect, depends mainly on biochar physiochemical characteristics and soil properties. However, little is known about biochar C stability in paddy soil. In this study, 13C labeled rice straw (RS) biochar produced at 500°C was incubated with five types of paddy soils to determine the key soil characteristics involved in biochar-C stability. Results showed that cumulative mineralization rates of RS biochar-C incubated with different paddy soils were relatively low (0.17–0.28%) during 390days of incubation. The cumulative mineralization rates of RS biochar-C increased with the increasing native soil total organic carbon (TOC) content. The estimated mean residence time (MRT) of stable C components of RS biochar in paddy soil, varying from 617 to 2829 years, decreased with the increase of soil TOC content. In addition, greater atomic O/C ratio and oxygen-containing functional groups were observed in biochar samples incubated in paddy soils with higher TOC content. These results suggest that RS biochar application could be an effective method for C sequestration in paddy soil. However, the stability of RS biochar in paddy soil would be significantly impacted by soil TOC content. From the perspective of long-term C sequestration, RS biochar is more suitable for applying in paddy soils with lower TOC content.