3He/4He Thermochronology Laboratory

Leader

Prof. Peter van der Beek, PhD

E-Mail:                vanderbeekuni-potsdamde 
Phone  :             +49 331 977 5808
Fax:                      +49 331 977 5700

Description of the Laboratory

The 4He/3He Thermochronology Laboratory (HThLab) at the University of Potsdam is a facility dedicated to the precise measurement of Helium abundances within specific accessory minerals for high-resolution, ultra-low temperature 4He/3He thermochronology. As part of the ERC-funded project COOLER (PI P. van der Beek), the HTLab is the first of its kind in Europe with aims to develop into a world-leading laboratory for 4He/3He thermochronology.

Our present 4He/3He facility includes:

  • A Helix SFT mass spectrometer for multi-collection of Helium.
  • An ultra-high vacuum all metal Thermo extraction and purification prep-line which include Zr-Al SAES alloy getters.
  • A Fusions .970 Diode laser system for sample degassing.
  • A Janis 10K cold trap for separation of the He phase prior to inlet into the Helix SFT.

The system is designed to simultaneously measure low concentrations of 4He (~106 atoms) and 3He (~104 atoms) released from individual crystals during laser step heating. Prior to fusion and 4He/3He quantification, synthetic 3He is induced uniformly within each crystal by sample irradiation, which requires sample exposure to a high-energy, high-fluence (1015-1016 protons/cm2) proton beam for an extended period of time.

Projects include:

The generation, compilation, and evaluation of high-resolution 4He/3He datasets to quantitatively assess the impact of late Cenozoic climate change on erosion rates. Integration and analysis of these data will lead to novel insights into the two-way coupling of glacial erosion and tectonics, as well as latitudinal trends in glacial erosion.

Augmenting existing numerical modelling toolboxes available to thermochronologists to allow sample-specific predictions across multiple thermochronometric systems, and to implement the most recent kinetic models of diffusion and/or annealing for each system. 

Development of models that incorporate advanced thermochronologic constraints to track the evolution of real landscapes at high temporal and spatial resolutions.

Investigating the feedbacks between glacial erosion and tectonic deformation in carefully selected field areas.