EGU General Assembly 2022
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

New high-resolution 4He/3He laboratory at the University of Potsdam: Toward standardized approaches for efficient and reliable routine 4He/3He analyses for thermochronology applications.

Julien Amalberti, Peter van der Beek, Cody Colleps, and Maxime Bermard
Julien Amalberti et al.
  • Institut für Geowissenschaften, Universität Potsdam, 14476 Potsdam, Germany

Next generation, high-resolution datasets to assess the dynamics of geological systems are becoming increasingly important to answer scientific questions that require higher spatial and temporal resolution than the current state-of-the-art. Such questions involve the couplings and feedbacks between tectonic, climatic, and surficial processes that constitute a heavily debated topic in Earth-Systems research. Over the last decades, the insufficient temporal resolution of conventionally derived (U-Th)/He thermochronometric datasets has limited the necessary quantification to track recent changes in erosion rates and relief—two metrics essential to reconstruct the past dynamics of landscapes and evaluate the relative contribution of surface and tectonic processes on erosion.

To overcome this limitation, the ERC-funded COOLER project aims to further the development of high-resolution, ultra-low temperature thermochronology by setting up a world-leading 4He/3He laboratory at the University of Potsdam. The centerpiece of the newly established laboratory is a split-flight-tube multi-collector gas-source sector mass spectrometer from Thermo Scientific™ connected to a sample-gas preparation bench, which includes He gas purification equipment along with a diode laser for stepped-heat sample degassing. Important topics of research the instrument will be utilized for include 1) investigation of the glacial imprint on topography, 2) characterization of the couplings between tectonic activity and topographic relief development in response to glaciation, and 3) quantification of glacial erosion relative to fluvial erosion in mountain belts. In addition to serving researchers and students at the University of Potsdam and collaborating institutions, the facility will provide analytical, research, and educational opportunities within the frame of the COOLER project to researchers from across the globe through external workshops.

To illustrate the capabilities of the new laboratory, we present our analytical and experimental methodologies used to obtain reliable high-resolution 4He/3He datasets. We focus on accuracy and cross-calibration to ensure minimal analytical bias in our measurements. Growing efforts in the (geo)science community are aimed at establishing best standardization practices and ensuring consistencies between laboratories and/or communities. Accordingly, we focus on ensuring that our methodologies are leading toward a noble-gas standardized method to compare mass spectrometry capabilities over various laboratories, and analytical techniques among the noble-gas communities. Accordingly, our standardized approach, coupled with analytical automation will lead to significant improvement in the accessibility and efficiency of routine 4He/3He analyses for geologic applications.

How to cite: Amalberti, J., van der Beek, P., Colleps, C., and Bermard, M.: New high-resolution 4He/3He laboratory at the University of Potsdam: Toward standardized approaches for efficient and reliable routine 4He/3He analyses for thermochronology applications., EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7412,, 2022.


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