Amino acid racemization Laboratory

Location:  41.273

Prof Colin V. Murray-Wallace

The amino acid racemization laboratory is used for deriving geochronological frameworks in investigations of geological and archaeological materials. Amino acid racemization (AAR), a measure of age, is based on the increasing ratio of right-handed to left-handed amino acids within fossils, expressed as a D/L value. Analyses are restricted to fossils composed of calcium carbonate or more complex carbonate compounds of Quaternary age, principally marine and terrestrial molluscs, eggshells, teeth, and foraminifers. Given significant advances in detection capabilities by High Performance Liquid Chromatography, the laboratory has started a rigorous program of investigations analysing single specimens of benthic foraminifer from marine cores. AAR applications include assessments of relative and numeric ages of Quaternary fossils, stratigraphical correlation, identification of remanié fossils, palaeothermometry and comparisons with other geochronological methods.

Facilities in the amino acid racemization laboratory include:

  • Chromatography by High Performance Liquid Chromatography and Gas Chromatography
  • Sample pre-treatment equipment including dental drills


Last reviewed: 2 July, 2018