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Stable Isotope Laboratory

Using stable isotopes to understand Earth systems

INSTAAR Stable Isotope Lab. (Left to right) Richard Kraemer, Tyler Jones, Bruce Vaughn, Amy Steiker, Owen Sherwood, Andrea Sack, Isaac Vimont, Valerie Morris, Jim White, and Sylvia Michel.

  • We study the carbon cycle by measuring stable isotopes of greenhouse gases from a global air sampling network.
  • We study climates of the past by measuring stable isotopes of water in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica.
  • We fly drones over the Greenland Ice Sheet to measure isotopes of water vapor, and to better understand water fluxes from the cryosphere.
  • We measure methane on a local scale to study the sustainability of oil and gas extraction in the Rocky Mountain West.
  • We continually improve our methods with new, automated techniques for measuring environmental stable isotopes.
  • We provide analytical services to scientists and institutions around the world.

We excel at measurements of

  • δ13C and δ18O in ambient or pure carbon dioxide
  • δ13C of atmospheric methane and local sources of elevated methane
  • Water from ice cores as well as environmental waters

Our instrumentation includes

  • Dual-inlet and continuous-flow isotope-ratio mass spectrometers
  • Laser-based cavity ring-down spectrometers.

Stable Isotope Lab by the numbers

  •  30+ Years of operations
  •  8,000+ Square feet of lab space
  •  800 Square feet of freezer space (-20°C)
  •  5 Full-time employees + students and Post Docs
  •  25,000+ Analyses per year
  •  3,000 Gallons of liquid nitrogen on demand
  •  180+ Publications associated with the lab
  •  36+ Publications in Nature or Science


You can reach us at the lab at (303) 492-5495

Or just come visit! We are in the southeast corner of SEEC (Sustainability, Energy, and Environment Complex) at 4001 Discovery Dr.

Contact Information

(Phone) 303 492-5495
4001 Discovery Dr
Boulder, CO 80303

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