Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer User Group meeting 2019 / / by Rob Burton

Rob Burton is a new technical member of staff employed at the National Environmental Isotope facility (NEIF) at the British Geological Survey, Keyworth. Here Rob gives us a rundown of the Stable Isotope Mass Spectrometer User Group meeting 2019 (SIMSUG), his first national conference since joining the BGS…

The 15th SIMSUG meeting was hosted by the Organic Geochemistry Unit at the University of Bristol. SIMSUG offers a platform for innovations in stable isotope research methodology and analytical instrumentation to be communicated amongst members of the stable isotope community. Attendees at SIMSUG included delegates from research institutes, manufacturers and technical experts; each providing a unique contribution towards the wide-ranging spectrum of content. 

The talks and posters provided fantastic opportunities to showcase the diverse nature of stable isotope applications. The topics explored included a variety of themes such as utilising stable isotopes as bio-tracers, reconstructing paleo-dietary models and developing effective methods for stable isotope measurement.

Some of the more memorable talks came from Mike Zhu (University of Newcastle)who presented his work on idenitifying the multi-trophic role of the sponge Hyrtios erecta (AKA “Bob”) and Martin Miller (Open University) who provided a detailed overview of his investigation into the applications of triple-isotope ratio measurements of oxygen in silicate rocks.

The BGS was well represented at SIMSUG 2019 with Andi Smith presenting his ongoing work regarding the implementation of the Sercon Cryogas system for high precision analysis of dissolved methane. Jack Lacey introduced a new working standard for determining oxygen isotope compositions in biogenic silica (BFC2) and Andrea Snelling (BGS visiting research associate) compared stepwise fluorination and MC-ICP-MS techniques for silicon isotope analysis in fossil diatoms.

The keynote presentation, entitled 'Advances in the Analysis and Interpretation of the Oxygen Isotope Composition of Diatom Silica', was delivered by Prof. Melanie Leng. In addition to the presentation, Melanie also introduced the National Environmental Isotope Facility (NEIF), outlining the capabilities of this new collaboration.

This year, the conference meal was held at Bristol Zoological Gardens. Prior to the meal, delegates enjoyed exploring the zoo and encountered some familiar wildlife…

The overall quality of presentations and posters was extremely high, however prizes were awarded to commend the most outstanding performers:

Best Posters: M. Zhang and Q. Zhang
Best Talks: S. Brown and M. Reay
People's Vote: S. Krauss

The existence of this conference would not be possible without the continued support of corporate sponsors. Therefore special recognition should be given to Thermo Scientific, Elementar, Sercon, OEA Labs, Picarro, Elemtex, Iso Analytical and Air Liquide.

Finally, after a very successful SIMSUG 2019, we can look forward to SIMSUG 2021 in Glasgow! See you there? 

Rob Burton is a laboratory technician in the National Environmental Isotope facility (NEIF) at BGS Keyworth. Contact Rob via email