Research Focus Areas

3D IMS-1270
Three Dimensional view of the IMS-1270

High Spatial Resolution Geochronology

By using the ims 1270 we are able to finely examine zircon (and other mineral grains) which can give us varying ratios and ages with depth. Also by using the ims 1270 we are able to selectively analyze single zircons. This is useful when dating ancient pseudotachylyte breccias and other spatially limited geologically interesting samples.

Crustal Evolution

By combining isotope geochemistry tools of geochronology, geothermometry, and geobarometry, we are able to use the ims 1270 to analyze samples and understand crustal evolution including details like age and rate of exhumation of eclogites.

Magma Chamber Processes

Ongoing research looks at processes in magma chambers. This is attacked through simultaneously looking at U-Pb zircon age distribution as well as crystallization temperature distributions. From this we can see temperature may have changed over time. This research may help to identify and quantify the risks of catastrophic volcanic eruptions.

Mission to Ancient Earth

Research in the Earth and Space Science Department at UCLA has identified some of the oldest known life forms on Earth. Researchers in the Ion Probe Group are interested in determining the environment and other conditions of the early Earth.

SEM image of Hibonite


Cosmochemistry research uses isotopic and elemental tracers found in extraterrestrial materials to study processes associated with the origin of the Sun and planets. Research at UCLA has looked at radioactivity in Calcium-Aluminum-rich inclusions (part of chondrites, a type of very primitive meteorite), interplanetary dust particles, lunar rocks, as well sun composition. By continuing this research we hope to better understand solar system forming events like our own.

Biologic Links to Geochemistry

Geochemistry can be applied to a number of biological problems to yield solutions. We are interested in seeing how standard geochemical techniques can solve biological problems. A number of published papers, using techniques like looking at δ34S to determine life histories of fish, have resulted from studies that approached biological problems with our ims 1270.

Environmental Tracers

We are interested in looking at how various isotopic ratios are only found in certain environments. The UCLA ims 1270 is able to quantitatively determine isotopic ratios.


Understanding the paleoclimate in given areas is another focus of the UCLA SIMS group. The UCLA ims 1270 is able to determine δ16O which is useful in a wide range of paleoclimate applications, as well as determine carbon isotope ratios. By studying paleoclimate indicators, UCLA researchers are determining that ice age events can occur much more rapidly than previously thought.