SIMS Laboratory

The secondary ion mass spectrometer (SIMS) or ion probe uses a focused ion beam to sputter material from the polished surface of a sample. A fraction of this material is ionized and accelerated into a mass spectrometer.  Important characteristics of SIMS is high sensitivity compared to other microbeam techniques, with  detection limits in the parts-per-billion range for many elements.  The technique can also perform in-situ isotopic analyses on very small sample amounts as small as 100 picograms.

Analytical Facilities

A wide range of other analytical methods and facilities for rock, mineral and fluid analyses are maintained by Section 3.1.

Noble Gas Laboratory

The noble gases (or "rare gases") helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon are chemically inert. Due to their volatile nature they have a strong tendency to partition into gas or fluid phases and can be used as tracers for the origin and the transport of fluids.

Electron Microprobe Laboratory

The electron microprobe is the most widely used instrument for non-destructive in-situ X-ray microanalysis of geological, metallurgical, and other materials.

Isotope Geochemistry Laboratories

Determination of isotope ratios on a wide range of geological materials is used for isotope geochemical tracing and geochronology.

Mikroscopy and Microthermometry

A range of optical microscopes are available for petrographic and mineralogic study. Some are equipped with heating and cooling stages for micro-thermometry experiments.


The GFZ Raman Spectroscopy Laboratory uses a Horiba Jobin Yvon Laser Raman Triple LABRAM spectrometer equipped with an Olympus optical microscope.  The confocal technique provides an efficient way to obtain interference-free Raman spectra  in-situ on  small specimens embedded in a transparent matrix.

Rock and Mineral Preparation

The best analytical equipment is of no value without good samples. We maintain central facilities and equipment for cleaning, crushing and grinding rock samples, for mineral separation (gravity and magnetic techniques) and for the production of thin and polished sections and grain mount.

X-Ray Laboratory

There are two main applications of X-Ray radiation in geochemical and mineralogic research. One is to determine the crystal structure of solids  (X-Ray Diffraction or XRD). The other application determines the chemical composition of samples ( X-Ray Fluorescence or XRF).