The Pacific Centre for Isotopic and Geochemical Research (PCIGR) officially opened on Dec. 12, 2002 and has immediately become a major regional geochemical analytical facility. Housed at the University of British Columbia (UBC), the centre serves the research needs of investigators from western Canadian universities (UBC, Simon Fraser University - SFU, University of Victoria - UVic), several government agencies, the mineral and environmental industries, and the international research community. The PCIGR is a unique research facility within western Canada and provides analytical instrumentation critical for resolving problems in the solid earth, ocean and environmental sciences. The combination of six mass spectrometers together with sample preparation laboratories and the research team that has been assembled to support it makes this facility critical to the research of numerous scientists. The PCIGR has been extensively used by students, researchers, and international scientists and is already producing data that have been presented at numerous recent national and international conferences.
Isotopic and geochemical compositions can be used to constrain the nature and origin of a wide range of materials enabling scientists to better understand the broad range of processes that have operated in the Earth over time. Recent developments in instrumentation, particularly in multiple collector and high-resolution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer technology, have opened up exciting new avenues of research by making it possible to detect and measure geochemical tracers at extremely low concentration levels and to measure rapidly and precisely the isotopic composition of an unprecedented range of elements. Isotopic and chemical systems currently under investigation at the PCIGR and being applied to earth science phenomena include radiogenic isotopes used in tracer studies (Pb-Pb, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, Lu-Hf), radiogenic isotopes for geochronological studies (U-Pb, Ar-Ar, (U-Th)-He), heavy stable isotopes in geologic and biologic materials (Fe, Mo, Cd, Mg, Cu, Zn), light stable isotopes in minerals, waters and gases (C, O, H), and trace element concentrations (lithophile, REE, PGE) of rocks, minerals, soils, and waters.
The primary goals of the PCIGR are to foster innovative research by providing an integrated analytical facility unique to western Canada, to attract visiting researchers from the Canadian and international scientific communities, and to provide analytical services to the community at large.
The PCIGR is a research group-based facility within which scientists and their students can exploit the synergy of a unique grouping of personnel, expertise, and analytical instruments. The major research groups include: (1) the geochemical tracer laboratory, which uses the Nu Plasma MC-ICP-MS for isotopic analyses of elements from light atomic masses (Mg) to heavy atomic masses (Pb), the Triton TIMS for precise Sr and Nd isotopic analyses and spike calibration, and the HR-ICP-MS for trace element concentrations; (2) the geochronology laboratory, which uses both TIMS instruments for U-Pb, Rb-Sr, Sm-Nd, and Pb-Pb dating, the Nu Plasma MC-ICP-MS for Lu-Hf dating, the noble gas machine for Ar-Ar dating, and the HR-ICP-MS for the precise elemental concentrations required for initial ratio and isochron calculations; (3) the crustal fluids laboratory, which is centred around the DeltaPlus LS-IRMS, but also uses the MC-ICP-MS and TIMS for analyzing radiogenic isotopes (Sr, Pb), and (4) the environmental chemistry laboratory, which makes extensive use of the HR-ICP-MS as well as the Nu Plasma MC-ICP-MS (Fe, Mo and Cd isotopes).