IPERION HSIntegrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure ON Heritage Science

Uranium series

The uranium-series dating methods are based on the measurement of the activity of uranium and its daughter nuclides. Provided several naturally occurring materials containing uranium can suffer geochemically processed that cause isotopic and elemental fractionation and thus radioactive disequilibrium, it is possible to determine the date of the original process by measuring the extent to which the radioactive chain system is in its radioactive equilibrium state. Some of the most suitable materials to be dated by U-Series are carbonate-based items such as speleothems, tufa, caliche. Biological materials (coral, fossils may be also dated). The ages derived from the analysis range from several centuries to 500 thousand years ago. This group of dating methods involve spectrometric techniques. Mass spectrometry provides de most accurate and precise dates and minimizes the sample amount requirements to milligram level or below. The core of our laboratory is a state of the art Multicollector Mass Spectrometer MC ICP-MS for isotope ratio measurements. Additionally, the elemental occurrence of other elements and their isotope distribution (i.e. strontium) in the material contributes to an enhanced understanding of the items under study. For that purpose, our facility is equipped with a high-resolution ICP-MS and an optical emission ICP-OES. All instruments can be coupled to a laser ablation system for microanalysis or high spatial resolution dating and determinations.

Fields of application

  • Cultural heritage

    archaeological object and site, paleontological materials, rock art

  • Natural heritage

    fossil, mineral, sediments, shell, skeleton, water


  • inorganic

    glass, stone, speleothems, water


Uranium Series system

The Uramium series system is composed of: 1. a Metal-free Clean Room with two clean rooms and 8 work cupboards. The Room is ISO 7 certified and the cupboards boast additional air purification through U15 filters. There are two sub-boiling acid distillers. 2. Multi-collector mass spectrometer with 9 Faraday cups and 6 ion counters, inductively...

Contact person
Maria Sarrò