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New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory

Our laboratory is now housed, along with the rest of the Bureau of Geology, in a new facility. Recent hardware and software upgrades have substatially improved the quality and throughput of analyses.

Lab panorama
The argon geochronolgy lab in 2017

Sample Preparation

Prep lab
Argon geochronolgy prep lab

The New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory has dedicated lab space for preparing mineral and whole-rock samples for 40Ar/39Ar analysis. The NMGRL also employs a number of highly skilled undergraduate and graduate mineral separatist to facilitate high quality and efficient mineral and whole-rock separates for argon geochronology.


  • Frantz Magnetic Separator
  • Heavy liquid separation (lithium metatungstate)
  • Picking microscopes
    • Binocular microscopes (4)
    • Petrographic microscopes (2)
  • Centrifuge
  • Jaw crusher
  • Disk mill
  • Piston (Nybo) crusher
  • Acids digestion (HF, HCl, nitric acid)
  • Mortar & pestle
  • Rock saws (available in other labs)
Felix Jan
Geochronologist Matt Heizler with spectrometers Felix (left) and Jan (right). The New Mexico Geochronology Research Laboratory has some of the most advanced mass spectrometers in the world. Felix is a large radius instrument designed to provide highly accurate results via high resolution where small isotope mass differences can be deciphered, whereas Jan is much smaller and thus much more sensitive providing the ability to yield extremely precise measurements on exceptionally small gas quantities.
Cynthia Connolly, 2021