Real-time field measurements of stable isotopes in water and CO2 by Fourier transform infrared spectrometry

David W.T. Griffith*, Ian Jamie, Michael Esler, Stephen Wilson, Stephen Parkes, Christopher Waring, Glenn W. Bryant

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Continuous records of isotope behaviour in the environment are invaluable to understanding mass and energy fluxes. Although techniques such as isotope ratio mass spectrometry provide high precision data, they are not well suited to the analysis of a large number of samples and are currently restricted to use in the laboratory. Fourier transform infrared spectrometers are relatively cheap and sufficiently portable and robust to be taken into the field to collect continuous records of gas-phase isotope behaviour. Several examples of the application of this technique will be presented. One data set provides half-hourly determinations of vertical profiles of D/H in water vapour above agricultural fields over a 3-week period; the same infrared spectra can also be used to determine 13C/12C in CO2. The technique has also been applied to the study of CO2 in ambient air and in a limestone cave system. Some of the features and complications associated with the method will also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalIsotopes in Environmental and Health Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Carbon-13
  • Fourier transform IR spectrometry
  • Hydrogen-2
  • Isotope analysis
  • Natural isotope variations
  • Water vapour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Environmental Science
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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