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The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton



Centre for Earth Research and Analysis Southampton (CERAS) is a world-class facility for the chemical and isotopic analysis of natural and anthropogenic materials. The instruments and techniques available can be applied to a diverse range of applications including environmental, geological, ecological, nuclear, medical, archaeological and oceanographic. The facility is used for a wide range of research purposes and commercial analysis.

For initial enquiries about our capability or using the facilities contact Professor J. Andy Milton.


We can analyse the concentration and isotopic composition of elements across the periodic table in natural and synthetic materials.

  • We use a variety of digestion techniques for bulk analysis and, for solid samples where high spatial resolution analyses and 2D imaging are required, a laser ablation system can be used for insitu analysis.
  • Our organic geochemistry labs can determine the abundance, distribution and stable isotopic composition of organic molecules.
  • We have a track record of carrying out commercial analyses and working with users to develop new approaches for novel applications.
  • We conduct world-leading scientific research across the environmental sciences and have experience with analysing archaeological, biomedical and nuclear samples.
  • We have a track record of determining the isotope ratio or concentration of >80% of the naturally occurring elements in rocks, sediments and water.

Technical Specifications

We are a well-equipped facility with a suite of mass spectrometers, a class 100 clean lab facility, several wet chemistry labs, and a dedicated and experienced team of support staff and technicians. The CERAS facility also includes the Organic Geochemistry LaboratoryGAU-Radioanalytical and the NNUF-EXACT facility.


We have several ICP-MS for elemental analysis
Sample preparation and purification
Sample purification in our clean labs
Our Neoma MC-ICPMS is ideal for laser ablation
isotope analysis by MC-ICPMS
High-sensitivity isotope analysis by MC-ICPMS
2 Laser Ablation Systems
We have 2 Laser Ablation Systems
Time-of-Flight ICP-MS
Our time-of-flight ICP-MS for in situ 2D mapping
Carbon Sequestration Laboratory
Our Carbon Sequestration Laboratory
XRF for the analysis of rocks and sediments
Organic Geochemistry Laboratories
Our Organic Geochemistry Laboratories characterise organic matter
Multiple Isotope Ratio Mass spectrometers
Multiple Isotope Ratio Mass spectrometers, Organic Geochemistry Lab

Our research spans the Earth and Environmental Sciences but is rooted in the precise and accurate geochemical and isotopic analysis of natural and synthetic materials.

Key themes include:

  • Past and Future Climate Change – using the chemical and isotopic composition of marine (micro)fossils to understand past climate change to better predict our warm future.
  • Environmental Geochemistry and Radioactivity – understanding the sources, pathways and fluxes of contaminants, and finding improved ways of measuring, monitoring and managing them to better mitigate their environmental and human health impacts.
  • Volcanic and Magmatic Processes – investigating how magmatic processes shape the physical, chemical and biological evolution of our planet.
  • Critical Elements and Metal Deposits – using geochemistry to understand the processes involved in mineralisation of elements and metals key to the green energy revolution (e.g. REE, Li, Co).
  • Carbon Dioxide Removal and Storage – exploring methods of CO2 removal and storage (such as enhanced rock weathering, mineral carbonation and direct air capture) required to meet global climate targets.


Scientists who work at CERAS collect samples from all over the world. Left: Dr Roz Coggon on board the Joides Resolution drill ship having drilled the ocean floor. Right: Fieldwork in the Namibian desert.



The type of samples we are able to analyse at CERAS spans a wide range from rocks fresh from volcanoes that reveal eruption processes to fish otoliths (ear bones) that tell us migration patterns of fish.

CERAS provides both academic and industrial consultancy services. The centre is run by an experienced team of research and technical staff with a wide range of analytical expertise. 

We offer a number of services that include sample preparation, sample purification and final analysis for isotopic composition or concentration. We have experience and capability to deal with solid (e.g. rocks, sediments, anthropogenic materials) and liquid (e.g. water, oil) samples through either bulk digest or through in situ laser ablation sampling. 

For all questions about access please contact Professor Andy Milton (

Contact phone number: +44 23 8059 2169    Contact email address:

Contact address and postcode

Professor J. Andy Milton

School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton,
National Oceanography Centre, Waterfront Campus,
European Way, Southampton. SO14 3ZH, UK


We are based in Southampton at the National Oceanography Centre