Geochronology and tracers facility

The geochronology and tracers facility is based at BGS, Keyworth. We focus on uranium-daughter geochronology (U-Pb, Th-Pb and U-Th) applied to a broad range of geoscience topics, and isotope tracers (e.g., Si, Cu, Sr, Pb, Hf, U) for a range of contemporary environmental processes (e.g., biosphere mapping, hydrology, depleted uranium). We work with the UK higher education institutes community and international partners to deliver research, method development and training.

Research areas

High precision U-(Th)-Pb chronologyHigh precision U-(Th)-Pb chronology

Using state of the art isotope dilution methods, we can determine U-Pb dates with a precision of 0.1 per cent or better, in order to establish the exact timing of geologic events, such as climatic and evolutionary transitions, and quantify rates of processes.

U-series geochronologyU-series and U-Pb carbonate geochronology

U-series dating of carbonate material can be applied to material such as speleothems and corals, with an upper age limit of approximately 500 ka. For older samples, we undertake screening and U-Pb analysis using laser ablation (LA) ICP-MS methods.

High spatial resolution geochronologyHigh spatial resolution geochronology

Using laser ablation (LA) ICP-MS analysis, we can accurately determine the age of U-(Th)-Pb mineral phases (e.g. zircon, monazite, rutile) on the 10–50μm scale, in order to constrain the timing of magmatism, metamorphism and mineralisation in crustal rocks.

Environmental tracer analysisEnvironmental tracer analysis

We undertake a wide range of tracer isotope techniques including characterisation of U particles, depleted uranium analysis, Si isotope analysis, biosphere mapping using Sr isotopes, and Sr, Nd, Hf and Pb analysis using solution and laser ablation methods.

Working with geochronology and tracers

Analytical capabilitiesAnalytical capabilities

A guide to our methods and instrumentation.

How to applyHow to apply

Application forms and guidance notes for submissions to the NERC Isotope Geosciences Facilities Steering Committee.


The geochronology and tracers facility employs around 14 full time staff.


In addition to in-house training of PhD students and post-doctoral researchers, we run and contribute to workshops and short courses on isotope methods.

Commercial enquiriesCommercial enquiries

A guide to the range of methods which we offer on a commercial basis.


Please contact Béatrice Bullock-von Moos for further information.