Heritage and Environmental Science
In 2022 Archaeology and Palaeoecology at Queen’s University Belfast was awarded £3m from the AHRC/UKRI Capability for Collections Fund, to complete a major upgrade of its laboratories, and the 14Chrono Centre, transforming these facilities into a world-leading institute for heritage and environmental science. QUB Press Release
ArcPal has a prestigious history as a research leader in archaeological science. This investment creates leading-edge facilities for NBE in isotope analysis, materials characterisation and elemental mapping, and conservation, to support the heritage and environmental science sector of Northern Ireland. This state-of-the-art facility now offers an all-island hub for collections-based research and archaeological science here in QUB, with equipment supporting research in the Schools of Natural and Built Environment, Biological Sciences and Mathematics and Physics. Together with the 14Chrono Centre, this heritage and environmental science facility describes a globally unique cluster of equipment, technical capabilities and identity, preserving the legacy of Archaeology and Palaeoecology as a world-leading heritage science pioneer, and supporting Queen’s investment in this area through the Heritage Hub.
Some of the equipment offered by this facility includes:
IONPLUS AMS 14C: MICADAS system for radiocarbon dating.
IONPLUS Gas Interface: This interface is used for radiocarbon dating very small samples (e.g. 1mm2 of paint or just 6 fibres of a canvas), and facilitates minimal damage to collections when researching date, provenance or authenticity.
ELEMENTAR PreciseION IRMS: Linking an IRMS with 14CHRONO’s recently developed ramped pyrolysis system (Ramped PyRox) enables live 13Creadings, allowing better interpretation of the 14C measurements of different temperature fractions for mortar dating and separation of preservatives from museum objects.
SERCON IRMS: An EA-IRMS for measuring C, N, S H and O isotope values, and fundamental to assessing date reliability via C/N ratios.
ThermoFisher iCAP LA TQ ICP-MS: The triple quadrupole (TQ) inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer facilitates a wider range of isotope characterization (e.g. 204Pb & 87Sr/86Sr). Interfacing with Ion Chromatography and Laser Ablation, to enable quantification of key elements (Fe, S & Ti) and Rare Earths, for source fingerprinting.
Ortec Alpha Counters: Alpha counters facilitates 210Pb dating of more recent horizons in environmental samples (i.e. last 150-200 years).
ThermoFisher ATR FT-IR: Fourier-transform infrared spectrometry (FTIR) is used to measure the crystallinity index of cremated bone to select suitable candidates for dating, to characterise mortar or other samples, or to identify conservation or other material on artefacts/samples that can affect radiocarbon dates.
JOEL JXA-iHP200F Electron Probe Micro Analyser (EMPA): The EMPA allows geochemical fingerprinting, and offers the only regional dedicated facility for the geochemical characterisation and provenancing of meteorites, rocks and minerals from natural history collections, and stone, ceramic, glass and glass glazes from Archaeology collections (additionally, this item has an SEM-EDX).
BRUKER XRF: Helium Purge M4 Tornado Micro-XRF: facilitates X-Ray Fluorescence with spatial resolution, particularly 2D distribution of elements on samples (artefact, geological sample, or corrosion) key for research and conservation of collections. A large chamber allows samples up to 5kg and 30cm long, with two sensors for large areas to be measured quickly.
BRUKER Handheld Tracer 5 pXRF: The Tracer 5 pXRF has a graphene window with higher transmission of X-rays throughout the energy spectrum to improve the transmission for light elements: this makes for better readings and more accurate, quicker data.
BRUKER Portable 2D Micro-XRF ELIO: A fully portable Micro-XRF mapper, this permits 2D elemental mapping of very large and/or stationary specimens that cannot be brought into a lab or moved.
HOLOGIC X-Ray: The UltraFocusXL detector allows analysis of much larger objects (e.g. human bones, metal objects) within a 50cm x 50cm chamber