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Sample preparation equipment

We have the in-house capability at NIWA to carry out the following sample preparation methods:

  • Sample homogenisation using bead-beater
  • Sample micro-milling
  • Bone-collagen extraction: to convert bone samples to collagen for stable isotope analysis and 14C dating (no dating capability available at NIWA)
  • Lipids extraction using accelerated solvent extraction method
  • Sample acidification to remove inorganic carbon from sediment and faunal samples
  • Freeze drying of samples

The New Wave Mercantek Micromill is a high resolution computer-controlled machine for fine scale sampling of hard archived materials, such as corals, teeth, otoliths, tree sections. Samples can be drilled down to 25 micron resolution, enabling fine-scale chronological studies of sub-seasonal effects. [Photo: Peter Marriott, NIWA]

Sea lion tooth showing annual growth increments which have been drilled out using the New Wave Mercantek Micromill. Each incremental layer was analysed for carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes to study changes in sea lion diet (N isotopes) and ocean productivity (C isotopes) over time. [Photo: Dave Allen, NIWA]

FreeZone 6 L Benchtop Freeze Dry System with Bulk Tray Dryer heats up to 60⁰C and is used to dry samples before they are prepared for stable isotope analysis. [Photo: Sarah Bury, NIWA]

A Mini-Beadbeater-24 homogenises samples prior to sub-sampling and weighing. Stainless steel vials (2.5 mL x 24) and balls are used to avoid sample contamination. [Photo: Dave Allen, NIWA]


NIWA has a dedicated sample weighing station on a marble bench in a controlled temperature laboratory. An XP26 Excellence Plus XP Micro Balance weighs samples to five decimal places in grams. Data are stored electronically and transferred directly into the mass spectrometry ISODAT operating software. [Photo: Dave Allen, NIWA]