Cohen Geochemistry Laboratory

This integrated laboratory suite has been designed and built for geochemical research in all areas of environmental geosciences. The facility operates as a collaborative and flexible space with state-of-the-art facilities and a supportive culture.

Dedicated technical support is provided within the laboratories in order to provide logistical support, assistance with analysis, and method development research.

We have specialist facilities for:

General laboratory facilities

We have all the facilities that would be expected in a well-equipped geochemistry laboratory including centrifuges, hot plates, incubators, a freeze dryer, autotitrators, spectrophotometers, etc. We have access to a rock crushing facility and thin sections workshop for sample polishing. In addition we have facilities for working under controlled atmosphere (e.g. anaerobic) and controlled temperature conditions. 


We have excellent facilities for the preparation of extracts from natural sediments, soils, silicate minerals, and waters either to determine concentration or as preparation for isotopic analyses. We are a world leading laboratory for iron, phosphorous and sulfur speciation through aqueous-based extractions of mineral-bound phases, including pyrite, within sediments. Many of our processes are optimised for high sample throughput. Please contact Simon Poulton for more information on these techniques.

Stable Isotope analysis

We have a long standing track record of stable isotope analysis of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, and oxygen in a wide range of materials with applications in a number of fields. We have two mass spectrometer systems and a range of vacuum line preparation facilities. For more information please either contact Robert Newton.

Elemental analysis

We have a wide range of facilities for the analysis of liquids and solids. Our facilities include Flame Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS) which allows us to quantitatively measure the concentrations of elements present in a liquid sample. We also carry out ion chromatographic analysis of samples for cations. These techniques are complemented by our close work with the our ICP facility giving us access to a wide range of analyses. We also have analytical facilities for quantification of carbon, nitrogen and sulphur in solid samples using our combustion analyser. This allows us to carry out total and organic carbon analysis (TIC/TOC). 

Geomicrobiology facilities

Our geomicrobiology laboratory is used for researching microbial processes in natural systems. The laboratory is able to work with microbiologically active soils and sediments and is a Containment Level 2 Laboratory. We have culturing facilities for aerobic and anaerobic microbes.

Radiochemistry facilities

We have a purpose designed laboratory for handling a wide range of environmentally relevant radionuclides including C-14, Tc-99, Sr-90, Cs-137, U. Our facilities enable us to carry out active experiments with a wide range of natural materials (soils and sediments) and minerals under controlled conditions (temperature and atmosphere). Please contact Ian Burke for more information.

Organic geochemistry

We have facilities for organic extractions and sample processing as well as analytical facilities including Gas Chromatography with both a Flame Ionisation Detector (GC-FID) and a Mass Spectrometric (GC-MS) detector.

Nutrient analysis

Our facilities for nutrient analysis include a Seal Analytical AutoAnalyser III, which we have set up for simultaneous analysis of phosphate, nitrite, total oxidised nitrogen and ammonia. We also have a Thermo Dual Channel ICS-5000+ Ion Chromatography System set up for measuring anions including chloride, nitrate, nitrite, sulphate, and phosphate. 

Properties of solid materials

We have facilities for measuring solid materials for properties such as surface area using BET, mineralogy using powder x-ray diffraction, and atomic structure using FTIR and Raman. 

Other techniques and equipment: 

  • Ion chromatography - Thermo Dual Channel ICS-5000+
  • BET - Micromeritics Gemini VII 2390a 
  • Carbon and sulphur analysis – LECO SC-144DR
  • Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy – Thermo iCE 3000
  • Autoanalyser - Seal Analytical AutoAnalyser III
  • Pyrocube elemental analyser
  • Isoprime Mass spectrometers
  • Raman, FTIR and UV-vis spectroscopy
  • Anaerobic chambers
  • Scintillation counter

Who can use the facility?

We are committed to sharing our facilities and associated expertise with external academic and industrial collaborators. To make an enquiry please contact Andy Connelly,


School of Earth and Environment

Members of staff

Academic Lead: Professor Caroline Peacock
Technician Lead: Andy Connelly