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Cosmogenic laboratory opens at the University

University of Canterbury

news release
21 January 2004

Cosmogenic laboratory opens at the University of Canterbury

The opening of a new Cosmogenic Laboratory at the University of Canterbury this week will be a major boost for local scientists trying to determine the age of landscape features.

Cosmogenic dating - also known as Exposure Age Dating - is a major new technique for determining the age of landscapes and is likely to become as important as radiocarbon dating.

Associate Professor Jamie Shulmeister of the University’s Department of Geological Sciences said cosmogenic ages can be used to date events such as landslides, earthquake movement, river terrace formation and glacial erosion.

“It will allow us to address key questions about hazard assessment and climate change. It will also give Canterbury earth scientists a major boost in our scientific capabilities.”

The cosmogenic technique requires very rigorous sample preparation under ultra-clean conditions. The Canterbury facility is the first preparatory laboratory in a university in New Zealand.

“The cosmogenic preparation facility is an important new asset for the University of Canterbury and has created a considerable degree of external interest,” said Professor Shulmeister.

“The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has been fully involved in the establishment of the facility. We will feed our samples into their system. ANSTO is providing technical help to establish the lab and will effectively provide us with an ISO-like quality control procedure so that our samples can run through their system.

“The laboratory is providing the impetus for a strong research relationship between the Department of Geological Sciences and ANSTO. This cutting edge facility will give Canterbury a major new capability in geochronology and will support research in Quaternary Geology, Neotectonics and Engineering Geology.”

The new facility has been funded by the University of Canterbury with technical support provided by the ANSTO.

The laboratory will be officially opened on Thursday 22 Janaury 2004 by University of Canterbury Vice-Chancellor Professor Roy Sharp. ANSTO chemist, Charles Mifsud, who assisted in setting up the laboratory, will also be present at the opening.


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