Auburn University
Auburn University
Auburn University


Research, Training and Teaching Missions

Data bearing on the age and duration for geologic events are essential to Earth science. The Auburn Noble Isotope Mass Analysis Laboratory (ANIMAL) is dedicated to providing high-quality 40Ar/39Ar age determinations for deciphering Earth’s history.

ANIMAL is based on innovative, cost-effective micro analytical strategies that enable a wide variety of scientists to study Earth’s geology and history.

Mass spectrometry provides robust age determinations by constraining critical parent-daughter isotopic ratios and data to evaluate inheritance and closed system behavior. Understanding assumptions inherent to radiometric age determinations, and sources of uncertainty in geologic ages, provides a fundamental foundation for comprehending time scales and rates of processes in topics ranging from the origin of our solar system, plate tectonics, evolutionary biology, and global climate change. To encourage student’s critical evaluation of radiometric ages they should be introduced to the basic principles of mass spectrometry.

Auburn University made a substantial commitment to integrating mass spectrometry research and geochronology with training and teaching by supporting development of ANIMAL. The ANIMAL facility is based upon a novel 10 cm radius, 90-sector mass spectrometer with double-focusing geometry and a high-sensitivity Nier-type source for the analysis of single-crystal scale (laser) samples using an electron multiplier.


Special Appreciation:

This spectrometer was built at Auburn University with direct participation of it’s students and faculty in the departments of geology, chemistry, physics, and also mechanical and electrical engineering.

We would like to thanks to assistance and encouragement from Students, Staff, and Faculty of the Auburn University College of Sciences and Mathematics, and also the Auburn University College of Engineering; Financial Support for Laboratory Construction from the Auburn University Office of Vice President For Research, the College of Sciences and Mathematics, and the Department of Geology and Geography; Financial Support for Research from Agencies Including the National Science Foundation, the US Geological Survey, and also Visiting Scientists Through Their Research Funding.

The construction and creation of the ANIMAL would not have been possible without the assistance from a worldwide network of noble gas researchers and the talented support staff and craftsmen that support them. We have received help in the form of suggestions, advice, materials, spare parts, and good wishes from more people than we can easily count. To honor these contributions, we commit to help perpetuate that spirit and offer whatever assistance to the community of researchers that we may.  



Auburn Noble Isotope Mass Analysis Laboratory