Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Dr. Erin Thornton Dept. of Anthropology - Stable Isotope Lab

Laboratory Services

The lab specializes in isotopic analysis of archaeological human and animal remains (e.g., bones, teeth, shells, plants, hair/fur, feathers, dung, and skin), but we also analyze modern plant and animal specimens. We provide laboratory analyses for both WSU and non-WSU researchers, but our focus is on generating data as part of fomal research collaborations.

Standard Isotopes Analyzed:

  • carbon (δ13C)
  • nitrogen (δ15N)
  • sulfur (δ34S)
  • oxygen (δ18O)
  • strontium (87Sr/86Sr)

Potential Isotope Capabilities:

  • lead (Pb)- please inquire

The stable isotope lab within the WSU Department of Anthropology is equipped to complete all sample processing tasks (e.g., cleaning, sub-sampling, grinding, chemical digestion, freezedrying, sample weighing) prior to loading the samples in a mass spectrometer. Isotope ratios are measured using mass spectrometers housed in the WSU Stable Isotope Core (Director: Dr. Dave Evans, Dept. of Biological Sciences) and Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Laboratory (Director: Dr. Jeff Vervoort, School of the Environment). Column chemistry for heavy isotopes (Sr and Pb) are also conducted in a class 1000 clean lab housed within the WSU Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Lab.


Current Prices

Please contact Dr. Erin Thornton ( to inquire about lab capabilities, turnaround time, and current prices.

Quoted prices include complete sample processing (e.g., sample cleaning, sub-sampling, grinding, chemical digestion, freeze-drying, weighing and mass spectrometer fees). The fees also cover wages of students who assist Professor Thornton in the lab. This promotes use of the lab as an important setting for hands-on student training in laboratory methods. Please also note that mass spectromter fees are set by the WSU Stable Isotope Core and Radiogenic Isotope and Geochronology Lab and thus subject to change.