The Leibniz Laboratory for Radiometric Dating and Stable Isotope Research was established at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany, in 1994. It combined a new 3 MV Tandetron accelerator mass spectrometer (AMS) system with the conventional Radiocarbon and Mass-Spectormetry Laboratories, started in 1962.

Lab Picture

The AMS Laboratory was founded to provide radiometric dating services to the University of Kiel and to customers from all over the world. Due to the high demand for radiocarbon dates and the layout of the system, the AMS is used exclusively for radiocarbon analysis. The conventional (beta-decay counting) Radiocarbon Laboratory was closed in 2004 when its head, Dr. Erlenkeuser, retired.

Besides its radiocarbon dating service the Leibniz-Laboratory is actively involved in research projects applying AMS 14C and stable isotope measurements to such diverse problems as reconstructing the timing of past climate change and glacial-interglacial sea level rise, the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, and the calibration of 14C dates beyond the calibration dataset. In-house research and development have been primarily directed at optimising existing sample preparation procedures, developing new ones, and extending the limits of the method.

The Stable Isotope Laboratory offers the possibility to analyse the composition of stable isotopes in carbonates (13C/12C, 18O/16O) and water samples (18O/16O, 2H/1H, and 13C/12C in dissolved inorganic carbon). Due to the fact that during physicochemical processes like evaporation the composition of stable isotopes changes, their composition can be used to reconstruct these processes or the environmental conditions in general. Fossil carbonates of biological origin like foraminiferas, bivalves, corals and ostracodes are investigated to reconstruct past climate, circulation in the ocean or the history of lakes. The stable isotopic composition of water samples is analysed to study hydrological cycles and the input of anthropogenic CO2 in the ocean.