Corif laboratory
The ISO-certified University of Plymouth Consolidated Radio-isotope Facility (CORIF) is a dedicated laboratory for the manipulation and analysis of natural and enhanced radioactive materials and applications of radioactivity in material analysis. 
It offers a wide range of ISO-certified research and consultancy services to external academic, public and private sector clients. Data quality is assured through regular participation in external proficiency tests: e.g. Max Rübner Institute (MRI), Germany; National Physical Laboratory (NPL), UK; International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Austria (data available on request).

About us

Radioanalytical instrumentation comprises three state-of-the-art gamma spectrometers and two liquid scintillation counters. Geochemical analyses are undertaken using a wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence (WD XRF) spectrometer with associated fusion machine and pellet press. Advanced radiochemical and geochemical facilities are complemented by a laser granulometer. The Facility houses a wide range of associated equipment for processing and preparation of any sample type.
CORiF has a licence to hold and dispose of alpha, beta and gamma radionuclides which are used to support many of applications in research and consultancy. The laboratory acquired ISO9001:2008 certification in 2010 (now ISO9001:2015) and offers a range of analytical services related to both internal and external research projects and contracts.
It is committed to offering advanced postgraduate training in applied analytical techniques and laboratory staff participate actively in undergraduate teaching, mainly for the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences and the School of Biological and Marine Sciences.

Gamma spectrometry

Measurement of gamma-emitting radioisotopes is undertaken using three EG&G Ortec gamma spectrometry systems all of which are suitable for low-level Pb-210 determination. The detector geometries allow a wide range of sample types to be analysed: 1 x planar (GEM), 1 x coaxial (GMX) and 1 x well detector (GWL).

X-Ray Fluorescence

Major and minor element geochemical analyses for fingerprinting are undertaken using a state-of-the-art PANalytical Wavelength Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer (WD-XRF) (Axios Max) with facility to prepare and run soil and sediment samples as fused beads (using PANalytical Eagon 2 fusion system), pressed pellets and loose powders.

Liquid scintillation counting

Alpha and beta emmitting radioisotopes are analysed using two Beckman Coulter automated Liquid Scintillation 6500 Counters with facility to prepare and analyse environmental samples and solids and liquids relating to high activity radio-tracer studies (which can be undertaken in-house as required).
CORIF services
To complement our analytical services, the CORIF team provides expert knowledge and support in:
  • sediment and peat geochronology
  • sediment and contaminant source apportionment (fingerprinting)
  • soil erosion and sediment budget evaluation
  • investigations of contaminated land and aquatic ecosystems
  • geochemical tracer studies using radiochemicals
  • investigation of eco- and geno-toxic effects of radionuclides
  • complementary research involving non-radiometric analyses 
CORIF undertakes external analytical contract work to support research and consultancy in these areas and welcomes enquiries from prospective clients and collaborators.

Research projects

The central goal of the IMIXSED Project (Integrating isotopic techniques with Bayesian modelling for improved assessment and management of global sedimentation problems) is therefore to marry together the strengths of isotopic sediment tracer technology in the EU, with ecological source apportionment models developed by US scientists, to deliver a powerful tool to combat threats to global food and water security.
The 'Sediment linkage between land, river and sea: evaluating impacts of historic mining on sediment quality in the coastal zone' (SEDiLINK) research project brings together established techniques (e.g. Pb-210 geochronology) with new approaches in evaluating riverine ecosystems (e.g. Pb isotope fingerprint) and deliver an integrated toolkit for evaluation of mine waste impacts.
This project aims to address the current debate around the allogenic (climate) and autogenic (ecohydrological feedbacks) drivers of change in peatland ecosytems. Using a multi-proxy (plant macrofossils, testate amoebae, stable isotopes), multi-site approach, hydrological changes between multiple profiles will be assessed for intra-site synchronicity.
Corif contact