Lab equipment

The Nevada Isotope Geochronology Laboratory houses a MAP215-50 rare gas mass spectrometer. The MAP 215-50, its extraction line, and auxiliary equipment are computer automated using LABVIEW software, initially developed by Bruce Idleman at Lehigh University. The MAP is a high sensitivity, low background machine featuring a triple collector assembly with Faraday cup, standard electron multiplier, and quiet electron multiplier with pulse counting electronics. This mass spectrometer is connected to a high vacuum extraction line with automated pneumatic valves, and a quadrapole mass spectrometer for monitoring gas species prior to admission to the rare gas mass spectrometer. Sample manipulation is accomplished by an automated x-y stage with up to 221 individual samples for laser analysis, or a motorized furnace sample dropper capable of running up to 16 sequential samples. Argon extraction can be accomplished by a double vacuum resistance furnace capable of heating samples to 1600 °C ± 1-2 °C, or a 20W CO2 Merchantek laser.

We have been fully operational and routinely performing 40Ar/39Ar analyses since July of 1999. The images below outline construction of the lab.


Automated laser sample chamber.


Furnace sample dropper and linear motion feedthrough.


Close-up of the extraction line showing the pneumatic valve drivers.

Command console

Command console.


MAP 215-50 rare gas mass spectrometer.

Extrline Block 10-15-19

Schematic of the extraction line.

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