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MERC Research Facilities

Isotope Geochemistry Laboratory

The Mineral Exploration Research Centre (MERC) at Laurentian University houses a new, state-of-the-art isotope geochemistry laboratory specializing in in-situ analyses of rock and mineral specimens. The MERC-IGL is equipped with a new scanning electron microscope, an ArF excimer laser ablation system and two plasma-source mass spectrometers, that combine to offer a wide range of analytical methods and can be optimized for specific research objectives.​ 

We currently offer a range of analytical services for geoscience research and industrial applications, including sample imaging (BSE, CL) and compositional characterization (EDS), LA-ICP-MS analysis and data reduction, and data interpretation and reporting. Sample mounting and polishing are also possible on a limited basis. 


Tescan Vega 3 Scanning Electron Microscope 

Our Tescan Vega 3 scanning electron microscope system is equipped with an integrated detector system, including SE, BSE, and cathodoluminescence (CL), and a Bruker EDS system with 60 mm2 X-ray detector. The fully-motorized stage is equipped with specimen holder accommodating up to six 1” grain mounts or four thin sections. Imaging, EDS analysis, chemical mapping, and phase identification/particle search can be fully automated for efficient data acquisition.



Photon Machines Analyte G2

Our Photon Machines Analyte G2 laser ablation system is equipped with a large-format, two-volume HelEx cell, accommodating a large number of 1” grain mounts (9) or standard thin sections (4) while maintaining laminar aerosol transport and fast washout times. The short wavelength (193 nm) and pulse duration (<4ns) provide efficient laser-sample coupling and small particle size. 



Thermo iCap-TQ ICPMS

Our Thermo iCap-TQ ICPMS is equipped with a collision-reaction cell (CRC), and pre-CRC mass filter, enabling minimization of poly-atomic and isobaric interferences, making it the ideal tool for accurate, ppb-level trace element analysis.



Thermo Neptune Plus Multicollector ICPMS

Our Thermo Neptune Plus multicollector ICPMS is equipped with the new Jet interface, providing enhanced sensitivity for high-precison isotope ratio measurements. Our nine Faraday cup collector array includes a 1012 and 1013 Ω amplifier, enabling increased analytical precision on low concentration isotopes. The Neptune is routinely utilized for U-Th-Pb and Hf isotope analysis, and can be used for Nd, Sr, and other metal isotope ratio analyses as well.

Laser Ablation split-stream (LASS) analysis: We routinely send the aerosol stream from the ablated material to both ICP-MS instruments, for simultaneous analysis of different analyte suites. Some common LASS applications include: U-Pb (Neptune) and trace elements (TQ), Lu-Hf isotopes (Neptune) and U-Pb ± traces (TQ).


Services & Lab Fees

(external users)

Instrument Analysis Daily Rate
SEM BSE-EDS-CL Please contact*
LA-TQ Trace element (TE), U-Pb $1200/day
LA-MC U-Pb, Lu-Hf, Sm-Nd $1500/day
LA-TQ-MC (LASS) U-Pb+TE, Lu-Hf, Sm-Nd $2000/day


*Daily, half-day, and hourly rates are available for the SEM. Contact Kirk Ross for a quote at kross@laurentian.ca.

Additional fees associated with sample preparation, imaging, data reduction, and reporting for LA-ICPMS analyses are assessed on a case-specific basis.


Contact Dr. Kirk Ross, Lab Manager, for details and scheduling.