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Improved isotopic analysis capabilities for unrivalled precision and accuracy

Isotopx Phoenix TIMS instrument (c) James Hutton Institute
"This new analytical equipment, coupled with the scientific expertise needed to interpret the results, will enable James Hutton Limited to provide answers to a range of problems for customers from a variety of industries"

The James Hutton Institute is reinforcing its extensive analytical chemistry capabilities for research and commercial work through an £500K investment on a new Thermal Ionisation Mass Spectrometer, which will allow the Institute and its commercial subsidiary, James Hutton Limited, to provide inorganic isotope measurements with unrivalled levels of precision and accuracy.

Thermal ionisation mass spectrometry (TIMS) is an extremely sensitive analytical technique used to measure the relative abundance of radiogenic and stable isotopes with very high precision. It is extensively used in geochemistry applications, such as in the oil and gas industry and in the environmental sector.

Carol-Ann Craig, head of Inorganic Isotopic Analysis at the Institute, said: “Having state-of the-art TIMS capabilities puts the James Hutton Institute among the best academic organisations in the UK and across Europe.”

The purchase of the new TIMS instrument has been possible through the support of James Hutton Limited, the commercial subsidiary of the James Hutton Institute, and the Macaulay Development Trust (MDT).

MDT chairman Eric Baird commented: “We are delighted to support the James Hutton Institute’s efforts in offering state-of-the-art analytical capabilities to industry. For instance, provenance tests are bound to have an increasing relevance in a wider world of imports as the UK leaves the European Union.”

TIMS analytical services have been provided at the Institute and its predecessors in Aberdeen for over thirty years, and the new instrument will allow a greater capacity for commercial services as well as tackling new scientific challenges.

Head of James Hutton Limited, Dr Jonathan Snape, added: “This new analytical equipment, coupled with the scientific expertise needed to interpret the results, will enable James Hutton Limited to provide answers to a range of problems for customers from a variety of industries. The business is delighted to make this investment with the confidence that the new TIMS instrumentation will offer first class results.”

TIMS isotope analysis is a powerful tool in environmental provenance studies where varying appropriate isotopes can be used for tracing sources of pollutants, soils, waters and biological materials such as crops.

In the oil industry TIMS is commonly used to investigate the vertical and lateral connectivity of oil and gas reservoirs through the analysis of strontium in residual salts; this analysis can be carried out on cores that have been stored for decades or on wells where there is insufficient produced waters for analysis.

TIMS can also be used to date sedimentary rocks by analysing isotope signatures present in fossil remains of marine creatures. The provenance age of sedimentary strata can also be determined using samarium and neodymium isotopes which is particularly useful when bio-stratigraphy is not possible.

The James Hutton Institute has instrumentation capable of carrying out isotopic analysis not just on soils and waters but on many different sample types, such as plant material, gases, phospholipid fatty acids and alkanes. For more information, visit our Isotopic Analysis page.

James Hutton Limited will be hosting a Technology Awareness Day at the James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen on 26th October to officially launch the new TIMS instrumentation. Most suitable for geoscientists and chemists from the oil and gas and environmental sectors, this will include a series of seminars, lab tours and case studies from expert research scientists. Details are available at

Notes to editors

James Hutton Limited, part of the James Hutton Group, commercialises the scientific expertise, intellectual property, facilities and resources of the James Hutton Institute. JHL offer commercial customers a comprehensive range of analytical, research and development, breeding, and consultancy services. JHL is a subsidiary of the James Hutton Institute, formed through a merger of Mylnefield Research Services Ltd and Macaulay Scientific Consulting Ltd.

Press and media enquiries: 

Bernardo Rodriguez-Salcedo, Media Manager, Tel: +44 (0)1224 395089 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or +44 (0)7791 193918 (mobile).

Printed from /news/improved-isotopic-analysis-capabilities-unrivalled-precision-and-accuracy on 22/04/24 07:51:45 AM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.