Argon Geochronology Laboratory


Argon geochronology research started in Amsterdam in the 1960’s as a K/Ar dating facility that was part of the ZWO Laboratory for Isotope Geochronology. The K/Ar facility continued operations until 1990. In 1990 the unit became part of the VU University Faculty of Earth Sciences. A new state-of-the-art 40Ar/39Ar laboratory was built with an NWO installation grant, based on designs first used in the laboratory of Derek York at the University of Toronto.

The new laboratory first used a 25W continuous wave argon ion laser as the heat source, and a manually operated custom designed low volume gas cleaning system and a Mass Analyser Products 215-50 noble gas mass spectrometer. In the following years the facility was equipped with computer controlled gas extraction and data acquisition. A Heine-type resistance furnace was added, the argon ion laser was replaced by a 50W CO2 laser, and frequency quadrupled Nd-YAG pulsed laser.

In the coming year the by now 20 year old MAP instrument will be replaced with a ThermoFisher Helix MC multi-collector noble gas mass spectrometer.

In the laboratory, a second facility (AGES) operates partly as a test bench for developing new technology, and partly as a facility dedicated to measuring young basalts. The AGES facility (Argon Gas Extraction System) has been first used for example for dating basalts for the Etna-map project, and for the CRONUS-EU Canary Islands project.



short description

The Argon Geochronology Laboratory at VU University Amsterdam