Facilities

Underpinning the School’s research are outstanding analytical facilities supported by full-time technicians. These allow for the detailed characterization of natural (and synthetic) materials, culturing of micro and macro organisms in extreme environments, and geological and geophysical field deployment.


Isotope and trace element geochemistry

Analysis of trace metal concentrations and isotope ratios using three MC-ICPMS and two quadropole ICP-MS with solution, GC, and laser ablation introduction systems. Gas isotope analysis using two Thermo Mat-253 IRMS with fluorination line, and Delta plus XP IRMS with peripherals for C-N-O-H gas chromatography. Elemental analysis by XRF, IC, ICP-OES. Geochemistry labs including two class 100 clean rooms support these facilities.


Geobiology and culturing

Facilities for 1) the cultivation, manipulation, and molecular investigation of micro-organisms, including under anaerobic, phototrophic, and lithotrophic conditions mimicking early Earth ecosystems, and 2) the culturing and investigation of corals under different CO2 and temperature conditions.


Biogeomagnetism

Analysis of organic matter-metal-mineral interactions using fluxgate magnetometers, magneto-optical microscope, and ex situ magnetic susceptometers, supported by a <5 nT shielded box, and supplemented by a nonmagnetic shallow drill rig.


Geochronology

Dating of geological materials via LA-(MC)-ICPMS, automated readers for OSL/TL dating, dendrochronology, geochemistry labs for cosmogenic sample prep, and experimental facilities for radio-/cathodo-/thermo-luminescence.


Experimental petrology

Experimental facility for mineralogy and petrology at high temperatures and pressures, using a Rockland 250-ton piston cylinder press.


Microscopy, spectroscopy and imaging

Electron microprobe, two SEMs, XRD, XRF, Raman and NIR spectroscopy, and 2D-3D micro-imaging.


Geophysics and field deployment

A broad equipment base for surface and near-surface terrestrial and marine geophysics using ssSONAR, GPR, ER, EP, IR, laser, seismic and GPS sensors, and a suite of survey, hydrological and soil sampling equipment, including a 21-metre research vessel, eddy covariance towers and greenhouse gas analysers.

We collaborate with the St Andrews Centre for Advanced Materials, one of the largest materials analysis facilities in the UK, giving us access to luminescence analyses, TEM, ESR, XP and NMR spectroscopy. We also make extensive use of national facilities including the NERC radiocarbon, cosmogenic isotope, isotope geochemistry (NIGL) and ion microprobe facilities, and synchrotrons at Daresbury and Chicago.

Departmental research in Earth and Environmental sciences makes substantial contribution to society and economies by providing fundamental knowledge to secure supplies of resources and protect environments and heritage. To this aim we have established the Centre for Earth Resources St Andrews (CERSA), offering expertise and facilities to support industry, government and other research groups. CERSA emphasises particularly: geothermal resources; rare metals; petroleum geochemistry; offshore and onshore surveying; environmental impacts; geological mapping; forensic minerals and geochemical materials characterisation.