AG Isotopenanalytik

Die Arbeitsgruppe Isotopenanalytik beschäftigt sich mit der Entwicklung und Anwendung neuer analytischer Methoden zur Isotopenanalytik. Die Methodenentwicklung umfasst die Entwicklung neuer Methoden zur Analyt- Matrix Separation, die Entwicklung spezies-spezifischer Isotopenmessungen sowie die metrologische Umsetzung der Isotopenanalytik.

Der Hauptfokus der Analytik liegt auf massenspektrometrischen Methoden ((MC)-ICP-MS, TIMS). Ein weiterer Forschungsfokus hinsichtlich der Weiterentwicklung spektrometrischer Methoden (LAMIS, HRCSMAS) ist geplant. Zu den analysierten Isotopensystemen in den Forschungsschwerpunkten zählen unter anderem die Systeme B, Ca, Hg, Mo, Nd, Pb, S, Sr, Ti and Zn.

Die Anwendungen decken den Bereich der Risikobewertung von technologischen kritischen Elementen, Provenienzstudien von Umwelt- und Geomaterialien, sowie den Elementkreislauf in biologischen Systemen und Umweltsystemen ab.

Current projects

TecEUS - Technology-Critical Elements in Urban Spheres

Abstract: The project aims at the systematic quantification of drivers, sources, pathways and sinks as well as environmental and human health threats of technology-critical elements (TCEs; e.g. indium, gold, antimony, neodymium) in the urban spheres of Vienna. Within this project, TCEs levels will be measured systematically in water, soil, plants, aerosol, supported by citizen science approaches involving residents and gardeners. Novel analytical techniques based on mass spectrometry will allow to detect the low levels of TCEs expected in natural samples. Green façades and plants will be evaluated for the efficiency to bind airborne TCEs both in field studies and in controlled greenhouse experiments. A simplified socio-ecological model will be developed depicting the biophysical stocks and flows of TCEs and their human health implications along with the development of prospective scenarios and monitoring requirements. Maps of exposure and emissions will be made publicly available.

The transdisciplinary project combines analytical environmental chemistry (Montanuniversität Leoben, Dept. of Chemistry), landscape engineering (University of Natural Resources Vienna, Institute of Soil Bioengineering and Landscape Construction), socio-ecological modelling (University of Natural Resources Vienna, Institute of Social Economy) and human health (Medical University Vienna, Centre of Public Health).

Project funding: FWF Stand Alone Project

Project partners: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Medical University Vienna

Project start: April 2020 Project


Team: Christine Opper, Donata Bandoniene, Thomas Prohaska, Johanna Irrgeher (PI)


Hydrochemical Characterisation of Deep Groundwater Systems in Upper Austria using multi-elemental fingerprints and Strontium Isotope Ratios

Abstract: The project coordinated by the Chair of Petroleum Geology aims at the source characterization of groundwater sources in Upper Austria based on multielemental pattern and strontium isotope ratio analysis. Within her Master thesis, Virginia Foelserl (Master Geology) uses multielemental data in combination with strontium isotope ratios assessed in a large sample set taken at different sampling stations in Upper Austria and assessed by (MC) ICP-MS to trace the lateral and vertical distribution of hydrostatigraphic units in the area.

Project start at AAC: October 2019

Project funding: ÖAW - Programm: Earth System Sciences (ESS)

Team:Virginia Foelserl, Christine Opper, Johanna Irrgeher, Doris Groß(project PI, Chair of Petroleum Geology)


Elemental and isotopic fingerprinting of dust from historical artefacts

Abstract: The project is dedicated to the development and application of multielemental analysis along with isotope ratios to trace the sources of dust collected from historical artefacts in order to gain more information about authenticity and life history of highly precious objects.

Project funding: Third party funding

Project partners: Patricia Engel (Donau-Universität Krems, Austria)

Project start: January 2019

Project Team:Johanna Irrgeher, Christine Opper, Thomas Prohaska


Investigation of the fate of Pb in human systems

Abstract: The project aims at the use of enriched 204Pb isotopes in order to trace the fate in biological systems

Project funding: Third party funding

Project partners: Glock Health Gmbh

Project start: November 2018 Project

Team:Johanna Irrgeher (PI), Christine Opper, Anika Retzmann


Development of species-specific S isotope ratio measurements in biological material

Abstract: The project is dedicated to the development and optimization of a species-specific method for determining the isotopic composition of sulfur contained in the amino acids cysteine and methionine in hair samples. First results of the development of a suitable sample preparation method (hydrolysis of the proteins contained in the hair), the separation of cysteic acid and methionine sulfone by means of ion chromatography and the determination of the sulfur isotopic composition by means of MC ICP-MS will be further applied to a variety of biological systems.

Project funding: Third party funding

Project partners: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (AT), University of Calgary (CA)

Project start: October 2018

Project Team:Johanna Irrgeher (PI), Stephan Hann, Michael Schober, Hedda Drexler, Michael Wieser, Kerri Miller, Aaron Wilkins


Ca isotopes as tracers in life sciences

Abstract: Biological processes like biomineralization and the (human) Ca homeostasis can produce significant fractionation of Ca isotopes. The analysis of Ca isotopes in biological tissue, including human bone, blood and urine, bears great potential as diagnostic tool for changes in bone mineral balance and for bone diseases like osteoporosis. This project aims at the development of a fully validated analytical approach to determine stable Ca isotope ratios at low analyte levels and low combined measurement uncertainties in biological samples using thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS). The work is contucted at the University of Calgary (Canada) in Professor Mike Wieser’s Isotope Lab.

Project funding: Springer - Monatshefte der Chemie, University of Calgary

Project partners: University of Calgary (CA)

Project start: October 2018

Project Team:Anika Retzmann, Michael Wieser, Dorothy Walls, Kerri A. Miller, Thomas Prohaska


Mammoth Migration in Alaska

Abstract: Within a wide-scope project hosted at the University of Fairbanks (USA) dedicated to a better understand why woolly mammoths survived late into the mid-Holocene only in the environments of arctic islands of the Bering Land Bridge. Furthermore, this research is testing various hypotheses proposed to explain the extinction of the Holocene mammoth population on St. Paul Island, Pribilof Islands, Alaska, as well as establish the actual time of extinction. We are happy to contribute to the development of analytical methods dedicated to Sr isotope ratios based on LA-MC ICP-MS.

Project partners: University of Alaska Fairbanks (USA), University of Calgary (CA)

Project start: June 2018

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