Lab & Instrumentation

The Analytical Laboratory for Paleoclimate Studies (ALPS) at UT Austin specializes in carbonate analyses. We use a variety of techniques to analyze corals, cave stalagmites, and marine foraminifera for paloclimate reconstructions. I analyze all of the samples for my graduate research in ALPS and also manage the lab’s day-to-day operations.


Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry

ALPS uses a Thermo Kiel IV + MAT 253 mass spectrometer to measure the oxygen isotopic composition of corals, stalagmites, and foraminifera.

The oxygen isotopic composition of corals is used as a proxy for the sea surface temperature and the oxygen isotope composition of sea water in which the corals grow. The oxygen isotope composition of sea water is linearly related to salinity.



ALPS uses inductively coupled plasma - optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES) to measure elemental ratios in corals (Sr/Ca) and foraminifera (Mg/Ca). Coral Sr/Ca and foraminiferal Mg/Ca are both used as temperature proxies.


Coral & Stalagmite Sampling

Corals and stalagmites are geological archives well-suited for tropical climate reconstructions. At ALPS, we use a computer automated micromill to sub-sample thin slabs of material along the maximum growth axis.

Corals are sub-sampled at approximately monthly resolution (12 samples/yr). Stalagmites are sampled at sub-decadal to centennial resolution depending on the growth rate of the stalagmite.