Skip to main content


The Durham Geochemistry Centre’s research is based around the specialist laboratory facilities we house.

The Arthur Holmes Laboratories 

Isotope and trace element geochemistry is a broad field that has made some remarkable contributions to our understanding of the solar system, and the history, surface processes and inner workings of the Earth. Mass spectrometric techniques are used to measure small variations in atomic abundance that may occur due to natural radioactive decay, mass-dependent fractionation, cosmic ray spallation and nucleosynthesis in stars. These isotope and elemental variations provide information on; (1) The timing of events, from the age of the solar system to the timing of climate or tectonic events recorded in ocean sediments; (2) Fingerprinting the sources of material, from identifying the types of stars that contributed to our solar system, to tracing the sources of different water masses in the oceans; (3) Past conditions of the Earth system, from the redox state of the mantle to past temperatures of the Oceans. 

Our research is currently focused on

Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory 

The Stable Isotope Biogeochemistry Laboratory (SIBL) is focused on the analysis of modern, historic and palaeontological systems through the use of stable isotope ratios, and in particular, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen. Due to the vast number of applications the analysis of stable isotope ratios, research conducted in the laboratory crosses many disciplines, such as Archaeology, Biology, Botany, Chemistry, Earth Science, Ecosystem Science, Forensics, Hydrology, Palaeontology, Physical Geography, Soil Science, and Zoology. The Group is extensively involved in regional, national and international science and collaborates with the community, industry and academia. SIBL is inherently connected with the Northern Centre for Isotopic and Elemental Tracing (NCIET), where many collaborative projects involve both labs, their instrumentation and expertise. 

Our research considers three systems: 

Source Rock and Sulfide Geochemistry and Geochronology Laboratory 

The Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University houses the Durham Geochemistry Group. Within this facility is the Source Rock and Sulfide Geochronology and Geochemistry Laboratory. This lab conducts research utilizing Rhenium-Osmium (Re-Os) elemental abundance and isotope ratio determination, and geochronology.  

The laboratory supports collaborative, government and proprietary research. 

Our research addresses three principal themes: