Arizona radiogenic helium dating laboratory
During the last two years, I have worked with the JPL Planetary Surface Instruments group on a quadrupole ion trap mass spectrometer.
This instrument has been developed for years at JPL by Stojan Madzunkov, Murray Darrach, and others.
So get ready for Helium Dating Workshop at Arizona 2010 (He DWa AZ 2010), a two-week thermochronology workshop emphasizing methods and interpretations of (U-Th)/He and some fission-track and other types of chronometry.
(Also it's time to find a better acronym, and we're taking suggestions).
During the year that I continued working in the AGES Lab before coming to Caltech, I started work on a different research project that aims to improve the chronology of the Wilson Creek Formation at Mono Lake, CA.
These gases present analytical challenges due to their high mass and low abundance in most environments, but their many stable and long-lived isotopes and different geochemical properties also present opportunities for expanding the capabilites of noble gas dating.
It is aimed primarily at students from undergraduate institutions who are working on their senior theses (or similar final projects) in the summer prior to their last year of studies.
The goals of the workshop are 1) to provide an opportunity for students to perform (U-Th)/He analyses on their own samples, related to projects and/or field areas that are part of their larger research project, and 2) to provide some training and experience in the fundamentals of geochronology/thermochronology, diffusion, and analytical techniques, as well as an appreciation for the versatility of thermochronologic approaches in studying a range of geologic processes.
My contribution has been to add the capability of doing static vacuum measurements in a UHV chamber, and to develop the instrument for doing high resolution measurements of small quantities of noble gases.
The QIT has very low background and high mass resolution in a small, efficient package that makes it ideal for spaceflight, portable terrestrial applications, and labs with limited budgets.
I am working on applying the (U-Th)/He technique to allanite found in some of these ashes.