The Melbourne Thermochronology Group currently operates five comprehensively equipped laboratories for Fission Track analysis, (U-Th)/He analysis, Laser-Ablation Quadrupole ICP-Mass Spectrometry, 252Cf fission-track irradiation, and Cosmogenic Isotope Target preparation and is supported by comprehensively equipped sample preparation facilities.
Digital Fission Track Laboratory
The (U-Th)/He laboratory was established in 2000 with apatite, zircon and titanite being routinely analysed. He outgassing is conducted using a semiconductor diode Coherent Quattro FAP laser with fibre optic coupling to the sample chamber, with He content measured using a Balzers quadrupole (QMS 200-Prisma) mass spectrometer. Analysis for parent U, Th and Sm isotopes is carried out using an Agilent 7700X inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (ICP-MS).
Laser-Ablation Quadrupole ICP-Mass Spectrometry
Laser-Ablation Quadrupole ICP-Mass Spectrometry offers low detection limits, highly sensitive and rapid multi-element determinations at ultra-trace level, and has been widely applied on earth materials in geological studies. The Melbourne Thermochronology LA-ICP-MS laboratory is equiped with a New Wave UP213 Laser Ablation System and an Agilent 7700x ICP Mass Spectrometer, delivering high precision trace element analysis.
252Cf Fission Track Irradiation
Sample Preparation Facilities
The Digital Fission Track Laboratory is supported by comprehensively equipped sample preparation facilities for rock crushing, mineral separation and mount preparation. Slide mounts for analysis are prepared using epoxy mounting and diamond polishing prior to controlled etching. For automatic fission track counting, the prepared slide mounts have a thin gold coating added in a sputter coating unit to enhance the surface reflectivity while maintaining good optical transmissivity.