TIMS U-Pb Isotope Geology Laboratory

The TIMS lab provides high-precison U-Pb dating of zircon and other uranium enriched minerals by isotope dilution thermal ionisation mass spectrometry. The lab has extensive experience in the determination of the timing of geological events. The method is applied to the resolution of many diverse problems in research, and also for assisting exploration programme in industry and for teaching at the Dept. of Geosciences.

Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS). Photo: Lars Eivind Augland, UiO

Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometry (TIMS). Photo: Lars Eivind Augland, UiO

Booking and prices

Prices: Contact Facility Manager

Booking: Contact Facility Manager


Contact information: 

Facility Manager: Lars Eivind Augland
Location: Sem Sælands vei 1
0371 OSLO


  • A new IsotopX Phoenix is currently installed and under testing
  • Low-blank laboratory with HEPA filtered facilities for mineral dissolution and processing

  • Two tracers, the Earthtime (ET) 535 tracer and an in-house 202Pb – 205Pb – 235U tracer
  • Jaw crusher, Retsch pulverizer, and Wilfley table in a null-contamination environment
  • Mineral separation laboratory with magnetic and heavy liquid separation capability
  • Hand-picking room with high-resolution binocular microscopes
  • Equipment for air abrasion and chemical abrasion

The laboratory has all the basic instruments that allow the complete processing of samples from crushing, through mineral separation to the final isotopic analyses. In addition it commonly also untilises the SEM imaging facility at the Department of Geosciences.

Description of services:

  • A new IsotopX Phoenix is currently installed and under testing and analyses are not available at the moment

  • High-precison U-Pb dating of zircon and other uranium-bearing minerals by isotope dilution-thermal ionization mass spectrometry (ID-TIMS)

  • Column chemistry in preparation for high precision Hf isotopic analyses by ICP-MS

TIMS U-Pb and Isotope Geology

The method is based on the radioactive decay of 238U to 206Pb and 235U to 207Pb. The two decay systems have half-lives of 4468 and 703 million years, respectively, which permit the dating of rocks as old as the age of the Earth (4.5 b.y.) or just a few million years old.

Zirkon grains isolated from a rock sample after extensive work in the laboratory. Ready to be examined in the mass spectrometer. Photo/Lab-Work – Credit: Gunborg Bye Fjeld & Fernando Corfu, UiO
Zircon grains isolated from a rock sample after extensive work in the laboratory. Ready to dissolved and measured in the mass spectrometer. Photo/Lab-Work – Credit: Gunborg Bye Fjeld & Fernando Corfu, UiO

The technique is most useful for applications where high-precision and accuracy are critical, for example dating volcanic rocks for chronostratigraphic correlations, or complex intrusive relationships for detailed resolution of magmatic evolutions, or dating deformation and metamorphic transformations to establish the timing and mode of mineralisation processes.

The mineral zircon is present in many rocks and is most commonly used, but any other mineral containing some U can be useful, especially titanite, monazite and rutile.

The laboratory can by appointment be used for research activities and/or to assist students at the Department of Geosciences.

About the laboratory

You can read more about the TIMS U-Pb Isotope Geology Laboratory, research directions, methods and more from here:

Published May 3, 2019 3:54 PM - Last modified June 23, 2022 9:51 AM