G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory

25 Templeton Street
Advanced Research Complex
Faculty of Science
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON Canada
K1N 6N5
Attn: P. Middlestead

Find us at:
25 Templeton Street
Advanced Research Complex (ARC)
Room 426

For all inquiries click here.

Paul Middlestead, Lab Manager
Tel: (613) 562-5800
ext. 6839 (office)
ext. 6836 (lab)

Dr. Ian Clark, Director



The birth of the Stable Isotope Lab

The Stable Isotope Laboratory, as it was initially known, was established in 1983 by Dr. Jan Veizer in the Department of Geology (now the Department of Earth Sciences) at the University of Ottawa. From 1984 to 1988, Dr. Bruce Taylor of the Geological Survey of Canada was acting supervisor to the laboratory and helped set the stage for its evolution. The first instruments were purchased thanks to Dr. Veizer's and Dr. Keiko Hattori's NSERC grants; they were VG602E and VGSira12 dual-inlet isotope ratio mass spectrometers. The lab prepared carbonate, water (oxygen), and sulphur samples off-line, collecting the gases in Pyrex breakseals. Dave Ryan was hired as a lab manager in 1983; he was replaced in 1985 by Gilles St-Jean.


Under new management (part 1)

In 1988, when Dr. Bruce Taylor's research demands at the Geological Survey required him to give up his supervisory role at the Lab, Dr. Veizer gave Gilles St-Jean full management control of the Lab. Gilles was able to design new and modify old extraction lines as well as modify mass spectrometers to keep the Lab competitive through the 1990's.

The laboratory's original mass spectrometers underwent considerable modifications and improvements during the course of the lab's history. In 1989, the VG SIRA-12 unit was fitted with a new polymer-based micro-inlet, which permitted the measurement of samples one order of magnitude smaller (< 1 micromole). In the early 1990's, a Nd-YAG laser for micro-sampling of sulphides, and a second VGSira12 mass spectrometer were acquired. This third mass spectrometer was also retrofitted with a micro-inlet and automated. A deuterium line was constructed, expanding the laboratory's capabilities. An in-house auto-water system was built allowing automatic analysis of oxygen in waters.


New quarters for the Stable Isotope Lab (part 1)

In 1994, the laboratory moved to the newly renovated Marion Hall building, leaving behind inadequate and scattered laboratory space. These new quarters, although of lesser actual floor space, were custom designed by Gilles and furnished for a modern laboratory, thereby greatly increasing the lab's efficiency.


Lab tries Continuous Flow technology

Further significant expansion of the lab's analytical capabilities was made possible in 1997 by the acquisition (initially a loan) of a Finnigan MAT Delta plus continuous flow mass spectrometer coupled with a Gas Chromatograph, a Pre-Con device, and a CE Elemental Analyser. This instrument was the first one in Canada and proved to be an incredible success. The donation of a second CE-2500 Elemental Analyser by Isomass Scientific Inc also added greatly to the lab's off-line capabilities.


New name for the lab

In April 1997, Dr. Jan Veizer was named the holder of a new NSERC/Noranda/CIAR Earth System Chair in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa. This Chair enabled Dr. Veizer and his team to continue their research on carbon cycles in rivers and oceans. Because much of this research requires analyses from this stable isotope facility, the laboratory was renamed the G.G. Hatch Isotope Laboratories, after the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR) Director, Executive Committee member, and Program Advisory Committee member, Dr. Gerald G. Hatch, who contributed generously to Dr. Veizer's Chair as well as being its greatest proponent.


Under new management (part 2)

In September 2000, Gilles St-Jean's position shifted to that of Research Scientist with a support grant from Isomass Scientific Inc. The position included application support and training through Isomass for new Canadian, US and international Finnigan MAT users. Gilles remained associated with the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory in a lesser capacity to provide support on various research and student projects.

In February 2001, the Lab was fortunate to be able to fill the vacant Lab Manager position by re-hiring Paul Middlestead (Lab Manager at the University of Western Ontario for 12 years). Paul is an alumnus of the Department of Earth Sciences as well as a former contract employee of the Lab. Paul was able to bring on-line some techniques such as sulphur, dissolved oxygen in waters and deuterium while streamlining the existing techniques.


CFI Grant and renovations in the lab

In the fall of 2001 Dr. Ian Clark, the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Lab, and other researchers, submitted a grant application to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), for four new instruments. The application was successful and the Lab received just over $2 million.

The year 2002 was occupied with planning and preparations for the new equipment.

The result was a Lab with five Continuous Flow Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers. The first new mass spectrometer (Artemis), a Delta Plus XP with Gasbench, arrived in the late spring 2003. The second mass spectrometer (Bacchus) was another Delta Plus XP, and was initially coupled with our GC's (GC-C & GC-TC) and Pre-Con. The third machine to arrive was a basic Delta Plus Advantage (Phusis) for use with an elemental analyser for CN isotopes. The last new machine to arrive was the special order Delta Plus XP. This machine was intended to be the sulphur machine, coupled an elemental analyser, two lasers with Gasbench, and also a TC/EA. Thus with our original Delta Plus floor model (Zeus) coupled with the TIC/TOC analyser and the VarioEL III, our capabilities had become quite extensive. The Lab now hosted the complete array of peripherals available from the manufacturer.


Second CFI Grant and a new building

A $22 million grant application, based on the success of the first application, was submitted and ultimately approved. Many changes will be occurring over the next few years including the construction of a new building to house a brand new AMS machine as well as other supporting labs including the Hatch Lab. The Lab will be receiving a new Thermo Delta V IRMS as well as several peripherals: GC Isolink, LC Isolink, Aurora with combustion unit, Isotope Cube, Pyro Cube, etc.

Gilles St-Jean will be moving to a new position no longer associated with the Hatch Lab. His time will be divided between his former duties with Isomass, and over-seeing the developments and planning associated with the new building.


Successful move to new ARC building

The Lab successfully moved entirely over to the new state-of-the-art Advanced Research Complex (ARC) building in April 2014. The month of May will be taken up with unpacking and set-up. The Lab hopes to be at least partly up and running by the beginning of June.

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Other lab staff over the years

Dave Ryan, Gilles St-Jean, Paul Middlestead, Robert Phillips, Wilma Schmidel, Marc Luzincourt, Margaret McLaren, Anne Thériault, Natalie Morisset, Wendy Abdi, Stéphanie Phaneuf, Yusuf Al-Mooji, Patricia Wickham, Marianne Molgat, Mark Marschner, Nicole Weinrauch, Saeed Alirezaei, Rita Dali, Danika Leminski, Anthony Lapp, Smita Mohanty.

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Last updated: 2015.09.29