Ansicht Geochronologie-Labor
View into the Geochronology Lab with RESOlution 193 nm Excimer Laser System von asi (left) and Element 2 XR Mass Spectrometer from Thermo Fisher (right)

Museum of Mineralogy and Geology


The Geochronology Section of the Senckenberg Natural History Collections Dresden exists since 2007 and comprises three laboratories for sample preparation and one geochronology laboratory with double door system and gas bottle storage area.

Our research contributes to the Senckenberg Research Activity 4.1 “Evolving earth and Environment” and deals mainly with the question of the timing of geological processes and important events of the geological and biological evolution of our planet.


Geochronology Lab
Our main research activity is based on elemental- and isotopic-based analyses of different minerals and rocks using LA-ICP-MS (Laser Ablation with Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectroskopy). For this purpose we use a RESOlution 193 nm excimer laser system of asi coupled to an Element 2 XR mass spectrometer from Thermo Fisher Scientific.

Our primary focus lies on analyzing detrital, magmatic, and metamorphic zircon minerals regarding their uranium- and –lead-contents (age determination, provenance analyses) and their trace elements. Apart from zircon we also work with apatite, rutile, titanite, monazite, calcite, phosphate minerals and others, as well as uranium-bearing rocks (e.g. limestone, dolomite).

Depending on the scientific and analytical requirements, different reference material and standards are available.

Our laser system is equipped with the extra-large laser cell S155 and several sample holders, allowing up to 20 single mounts with sample material, several thin sections, or complete rock specimens of several centimeters in size to be analyzed.

Sample Preparation Labs


The different labs for sample preparation at the SNSD are equipped with machines for sample crushing (jaw crusher, rock squeezer), sample separation and –cleaning (sifting machines, shaking table, ultrasonic units, fume cupboard with separating funnel and associated lab equipment), and a grinding-and polishing-machine.



Minerals of interest can either be picked per Hand under a polarization microscope and fixed in a mount, or be analyzed in-situ directly from a thin section or a small rock sample.

For further analyses prior to U-Pb dating there is a scanning electron microscope (SEM) EVO 50 from Zeiss available at the SNSD. This ca be used for morphology studies on minerals (high-resolution images of 3D objects using BSE or SE detectors), determining of minerals and inclusions (EDX analyses), and investigations of the internal structure on polished mineral surfaces (CL detector).