Macquarie University GeoAnalytical

Macquarie University GeoAnalytical

The MQ GeoAnalytical (MQGA) in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences includes a world-class instrument park and associated clean-room geochemical laboratories that are intensively used for research and teaching. The MQGA is recognised internationally as an outstanding integrated analytical facility and is continuing to develop a unique infrastructure based on in situ imaging and microanalysis of trace elements and isotopic ratios in minerals, rocks and fluids. The umbrella structure of the operation ensures equity and access to all users across all of the facilities.

One of the primary goals of the MQGA is to be able to analyse a broad spectrum of elements from trace abundances (ppb/ppm) to major levels (10s of weight percent) in a wide variety of geological materials. For whole-rock analyses this includes the measurement of major elements by XRF and trace elements by solution ICP-MS. The measurement of elemental abundances is complemented by the high-precision measurement of radiogenic isotopes including Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf, Re-Os, Pb and short-lived U-series systems (U, Th and Ra) by TIMS and solution MC-ICP-MS.

The development of techniques for the measurement of ‘non-traditional’ metal isotopes (Li, Mg, Si, Fe, Cu) by MC-ICP-MS is embedded in a number of current research programs. Recent advances in the MQGA have involved building capability in spectroscopy with the acquisition of a ThermoFisher iN10FTIR microscope and a Horiba LabRam HR Evolution confocal Micro Laser Raman spectrometer. The addition of the Oxford Instruments Synergy system (combined EDS X-ray analysis and electron back scatter diffraction camera) to the Zeiss EVO SEM has enabled the examination of the microstructural and crystallographic orientation of many materials.

Equipment in the MQGA

  • Cameca SX-100 electron microprobe
  • Zeiss EVO MA15 Scanning electron microscope (with Oxford Instruments Aztec Synergy EDS/EBSD)
  • Four Agilent quadrupole ICP-MS (two 7500cs and two 7700cx)
  • Nu Plasma multi-collector ICP-MS
  • Nu Plasma high resolution multi-collector ICP-MS
  • Nu Attom high resolution single-collector sector field ICP-MS
  • Thermo Finnigan Triton TIMS
  • Three New Wave laser microprobes
  • Photon Machines Excite Excimer laser ablation system
  • Photon Analyte G2 Excimer laser ablation system
  • Photon Machines Analyte198 Femto-second laser ablation system
  • PANalytical Axios 1kW XRF with rocker-furnace sample preparation equipment
  • LECO RC412 H2O-CO2 analyser
  • Ortec Alpha Particle counter
  • New Wave MicroMill micro-sampling apparatus
  • ThermoFisher iN10 FTIR microscope
  • SelFrag electrostatic rock disaggregation facility 
  • Clean labs and sampling facilities provide infrastructure for ICPMS, XRF and isotopic analyses of small and/or low-level samples
  • Raman spectrometer

Read more about the research we conduct in these facilities

Personnel involved

Bruce Schaefer (Director)
Olivier Alard (Deputy Director)
Elena Belousova
Stefan Loehr
 Technical and Scientific staff
Peter Wieland
Yi-Jen Lai
Tim Murphy

The Organic Geochemistry lab

The Organic Geochemistry lab is dedicated to trace hydrocarbon analysis, and is a shared is a shared facility at Macquarie University.

Equipment in the lab

  • Accelerated Solvent Extractor (ASE300) for solvent extraction of sediments, rocks, biological samples and environmental samples.
  • Benchtop gas chromatograph-mass spectrometer (GC-MS): Agilent GC (6890N) coupled to an Agilent Mass Selective Detector (5975B). Programmable Temperature Vaporization (PTV) inlet and flame ionisation detector. This is one of the work-horse instruments of the laboratory and is used for a wide variety of projects.
  • Agilent purge and trap GC-MS inlet, interfaced to the Agilent benchtop GC-MS, for analysis of hydrocarbons dissolved in water-phase compounds.
  • Pegasus 4D GCxGC-MS system, with Agilent 6890N GC, split-splitless injector and flame ionisation detector.
  • Beuhler Isomet 4000 linear precision rock saw for fine cuts and slice experiments on rocks.
  • Hermle centrifuge.
  • Julabo chiller interfaced to a Buchii R-210 rotary evaporator.
  • Millipore Direct-Q UV system for production of ultrapure water.
  • Liquid chromatography-MS system installed in 2014, composed of a 1260 Infinity LC and fraction collector interfaced to a 6120 Quadrupole MS.
  • Multifunction orbital shaker, Benchmark bench mixer and low temperature incubator for Australian Antarctic Division projects.

Read more about our Organic Geochemistry Laboratory and Instruments

The Sedimentary Geology and Geochemistry lab

Stable Isotope lab

  • ThermoFisher MAT 253plus stable isotope ratio mass spectrometer with 1013 ohm detector for clumped isotope determination
  • ThermoFisher gas bench for automated carbonate and water sample preparation
  • 2 MAT 252 mass stable isotope ratio mass spectrometers with C, N, S, O, S, H measurement capacity
  • Sample preparation lab including vacuum lines and furnaces for stable isotope analysis

Shale and Carbonate nanoscale imaging lab

  • FEI Teneo 1nm resolution Field emission scanning electron microscope equipped with EDS and quantitative <1µm resolution mineral mapping (Nanomin)
  • Ar ion beam polishing
  • Jeol single filament SEM with EDS
  • Agilent MP-AES
  • Elemental analyser for C, N, S
  • Nikon organic petrographic optical microscope with fluorescence light source
  • Mineral surface area measurement
  • Shale and carbonate preparation laboratory including centrifuges, mills, acid digestion hoods, microbalance
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