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Principles and Practice of Stable Light Isotopes

April 15, 2008

Next course: 30 June – 4 July 2008

This five day, intensive course on the basic principles of stable light isotope biogeochemistry, and their use as natural abundance tracers, is aimed at archaeologists, ecologists, and (palaeo-)environmental, and forensic scientists who wish to apply isotope tools in their work. It covers the principles for the isotopes of H, C, N, O, S in all fields, and includes case studies and practical guidance. The format is a series of lectures by experts, reading material, exercises, and sessions in our mass spectrometry laboratories.

Topics covered
+ Theory of fractionation, isotope effects (physical, equilibria and kinetic effects).
+ Mass spectrometers, calibration and notation.
+ Carbon: photosynthesis, responses to climate variables, vegetation distributions.
+ Nitrogen: nutrient cycling in ecosystems – both marine and terrestrial – and in organisms, responses to limate/environmental change.
+ Oxygen and hydrogen isotopes in hydrology.
+ Oxygen isotopes in carbonates and other minerals, palaeothermometry and oxygen isotope stratigraphy.
+ Applications of sulphur isotope distributions.
+ Application of multiple combined isotope tools in palaeooceanography, global climate change, (palaeo-)ecology, life histories, migration or sourcing, forensics, and quality control.

The course is convened by Professor Julia Lee-Thorp with the help of Dr Ben Stern, Dr Andrew Wilson, Mr Andrew Gledhill, (all Division of Archaeological, Geographical and Environmental Sciences, University of Bradford), Professor Mark Maslin and Dr Phil Hopley (both Environmental Institute, University College London), Dr Arnoud Boom (Department of Geography & Neotropical Research, University of Leicester), Dr Matt Sponheimer (Anthropology Department, University of Colorado at Boulder), Dr Wolfram Meier-Augenstein (Environmental Forensics & Human Health Research Group EERC, Queen’s University Belfast) and tbc: Dr Tamsin O’Connell (McDonald Inst, Cambridge University).
Please note: due to practical requirements we can only accommodate a limited number of participants.


For enquiries about the course and content: Professor Julia Lee-Thorp (
For information about applications, accommodation and travel:
John McIlwaine: (
Co-ordinator of Continuing & Professional Education Division of Archaeological Geographical and Environmental Sciences
University of Bradford
Tel:  +44 1274 235428
Fax: +44 1274 235190

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