The Stable isotope facility user survey for 2015

Thanks to all of those who took part in the 2015 Stable Isotope Facility user survey. The feedback we have received has been invaluable, both for the continued operation of the facility and to help establish where additional services maybe required by the wider stable isotope research community.

A short summary of the results is presented below.

The respondents

  • 55 researchers used the SIF in 2015.
  • 50 users completed the 2015 user survey.
  • The main science areas of those surveyed are climate systems, environmental change, earth system science, and environment, pollution and human health.
  • of the 50 respondents the majority (78 per cent) have used the SIF for between 2–5 years.

The facility

  • 91 per cent of the respondents consider the SIF to be "world class" or "state of the art".
  • Of the respondents, 83 per cent anticipate using the SIF at least once per year with 63 per cent being highly dependent on the facility in their research.
  • On a NERC type scale of 1–6, 90 per cent graded the SIF to be either 5 (26 per cent) or 6 (64 per cent), 5 being "excellent and internationally competitive" and 6 being "outstanding, world leading high impact research"


  • 98 per cent considered the SIF staff response time to be either prompt or reasonable.
  • 100 per cent of the respondents consider the quality of service from the SIF staff to be excellent (85 per cent) or good (15 per cent).
  • 87 per cent consider collaboration with SIF staff to be essential or important to their research.


  • 95 per cent consider training of students and early carrier researchers in isotope geochemistry to be excellent or good.
  • 93 per cent consider the training to be essential/important to improve their research needs.

Comments on the new analytical capacity that respondents would like the SIF to develop

  • Sub 10μg carbonates: We have had recent success analysing single foraminifera at the 10μg range and continue to develop analysis for smaller samples.
  • Boron isotopes: currently there no plans to extend the SIF capability to include Boron as there are currently excellent facilities for this analysis at Bristol and Southampton.
  • Elemental concentration: there are no plans to add elemental concentration analysis as there are numerous UK based facilities with excellent ICPMS capability, including the BGS.
  • C and H isotopes in methane: this capability is currently being explored, it would however require new novel equipment for the facility.
  • Cavity ringdown MS to increase O and H capacity in waters: the SIF is currently not operating at full capacity for O and H in waters. Our current analytical methods are world class in terms of precision and accuracy so there is no requirement for new instrumentation at this time.
  • Clumped isotopes: while we have the technology to analyse clumped isotopes a great deal of time has been invested at other UK institutions (SUERC, University of East Anglia and Imperial Collage London) to get this technique up and running for the community.

Comments on the facility

  • More lab space is required.
  • Data reporting and quality control are dealt with as a component of the training offered at the SIF.
  • "The SIF is a valuable community asset which enables cutting edge science to take place"...
  • ..."the Stable isotope facility is a world leader".
  • ..."excellent experience with the Stable isotope facility".
  • ..."I rely on the Stable isotope facility to achieve my research goals".
  • ..."project and isotope advice is second to none".


Contact Béatrice Bullock-von Moos for further information about the Stable isotope facility.