Isotope Analysis

Sector: Crop Science,   Extractive Industries,   Food & Drink,   The Environment

The James Hutton Institute laboratories can deliver analysis of a wide range of stable isotopes, performing both bulk and compound specific analysis of:

  • Light Isotopes - including Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen
  • Heavy Isotopes - including Strontium, Neodymium, Samarium and Lead

The team also has extensive preparation facilities and experience of extracting these compounds from samples.

Isotope analysis can help to date or find the point of origin of a sample and is typically used for: 

archaeology by Made from the Noun Project
Soil science.
Ecology by UNiCORN from the Noun Project
marine by Saranyapong from the Noun Project
Marine science.
Food and Drink by tezar tantular from the Noun Project
Food & drink sector.
archaeology by Made from the Noun Project
water drops by Melissa Schmitt from the Noun Project
Forensics by Made from the Noun Project
Construction by Flatart from the Noun Project
Oil & gas sector.
Ben Davis from Noun Project
Plant breeding.

Specific Analyses

The applications of these analyses are varied and this is reflected in a wide client base which includes the oil and gas sector, the food and drink sector, government agencies and research institutions.

  • Carbon, Nitrogen and Oxygen isotopes in solids such as plant material, soils and marine sediments (hydrogen isotopes are under development)
  • Carbon isotopes of dissolved inorganic Carbon in both fresh and saline waters and Carbon isotopes of dissolved organic Carbon in fresh waters
  • Carbon and Oxygen isotopes of carbon dioxide in gaseous materials

We are also capable of compound specific analysis of neutral and phospholipid fatty acids (Carbon isotopes), alkanes (Carbon isotopes) and amino acids (Carbon and Nitrogen isotopes); these analyses have many applications in biological science.

  • Geological investigations (e.g. Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy) for soils, pollution studies, plant element uptake and archaeological tracking
  • Geological materials including mineral separates, drill cuttings, whole rocks, residual salts, formation waters and micro-fossils.  All of which have been applied to reservoir geology nationally and internationally

We work in partnership with ISOTOPIC Ltd. to deliver high precision radiogenic isotope analysis to the oil and gas industry.


In 2017 we invested in a state of the art, Isotopx Phoenix TIMS which will measure isotopes with the highest sensitivity and ratio precision.  This combined with a new prepFAST automated ion-exchange column system, enhances our ability to produce high quality, high precision data for our clients.


Thermal Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (TIMS)
Can handle a diverse range of materials from waters, to plants, to rocks, to microfossils.


The James Hutton Institute analytical laboratories operate to the standards required by UKAS accreditation and many of our routine techniques are accredited.  A full accreditation schedule can be found at

Our ability to perform a huge variety of techniques means that in general a one-off analysis may not be accredited but our total commitment to high standards ensures it will be carried out to the exacting specifications that accreditation requires.

Contact us for further information. 

rainbow colours

Watch our free analytical webinar covering problem samples & scientific solutions / exploring investigative techniques for the energy sector 

Other Services