New Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry (LCMS)

The Organic Geochemistry Laboratory at BGS recently took delivery of a new mass spectrometer which enables identification and quantification of semi-volatile and non-volatile compounds even when in the presence of other chemicals. The new LC/MS broadens our view of the chemical world so that we can now detect a wide range of environmentally and geologically important compounds. These include cellular membrane lipids, namely glycerol dialkyl glycerol tetraether (GDGT), which provide chemical taxanomic information that can be used to:

  1. track the source of carbon down rivers into estuaries out to the oceans
  2. determine the temperature of past oceans and lakes using tetraethers containing 86 carbon atoms (TEX86)
  3. reconstruct palaeo soil pH and continental air temperatures.

The instrument is flexible in that it can also be used to measure harmful polluting pesticides, pharmaceuticals, industrial surfactants as well as contaminants associated with our growing use of personal care products (e.g. DEET and sunscreens).

LCMS workflow