Isotope Analysis

Sector: Crop Science,   Extractive Industries,   Food & Drink,   The Environment

Cow in field
Isotope analysis can be used to find the provenance of food

James Hutton Limited provides analysis of a wide range of stable isotopes, performing both bulk and compound specific analysis of light isotopes including, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen, and heavy isotopes, including Strontium, Neodymium, Samarium and Lead.  We also have extensive preparation facilities and experience of extracting these compounds from samples. 

Typical Uses

Soil science.
Marine science.
Food & drink sector.
Oil & gas sector.
Plant breeding.


In 2017 we invested in a state of the art, Isotopx Phoenix TIMS which will measure isotopes with the highest sensitivity and ratio precision.  This combined with a new prepFAST automated ion-exchange column system, enhances our ability to produce high quality, high precision data for our clients.


Thermal Ionisation Mass Spectrometry (TIMS)
Can handle a diverse range of materials from waters, to plants, to rocks, to microfossils.

Specific Analyses

The applications of these analyses are varied which is reflected in a wide client base including: the oil and gas sector, the food and drink sector, government agencies and research institutions.

  • C, N and O isotopes in solids such as plant material, soils and marine sediments (hydrogen isotopes are under development)
  • C isotopes of dissolved inorganic C in both fresh and saline waters and C isotopes of dissolved organic C in fresh waters
  • C and O isotopes of carbon dioxide in gaseous materials

We are also capable of compound specific analysis of neutral and phospholipid fatty acids (C isotopes), alkanes (C isotopes) and amino acids (C and N isotopes); these analyses have many applications in biological science.

  • Geological investigations (e.g. Strontium Isotope Stratigraphy) for soils, pollution studies, plant element uptake and archaeological tracking
  • Geological materials including mineral separates, drill cuttings, whole rocks, residual salts, formation waters and micro-fossils.  All of which have been applied to reservoir geology nationally and internationally

For the oil and gas industry, we work in partnership with ISOTOPIC Ltd. delivering high precision radiogenic isotope analysis.


The James Hutton Institute analytical laboratories operate to the standards required by UKAS accreditation and many of our routine techniques are accredited.  A full accreditation schedule can be found at

Our ability to perform a huge variety of techniques means that in general a one-off analysis may not be accredited but our total commitment to high standards ensures it will be carried out to the exacting specifications that accreditation requires.

Contact us for further information. 

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