Isotopic Tracing

Tracing of sources and processes in various environments using radiogenic and heavy stable isotopes

Main research directions

Application of various isotopic tracing techniques to :

  • Petrogenetic processes of magmatic rocks from various geodynamic settings
  • Metallogenetic processes
  • Paleoenvironmental changes
  • Anthropogenic processes
Main Research


The isotopic tracing unit hosts:

Clean Lab

1. a clean laboratory for the separation of Sr, Nd, Pb, Cu, Zn and Fe from various matrices (both solid and fluid);


2. a Merchantek micromill for microsampling of solid materials (e.g., minerals and fossils);

Neptune Plus MC-ICPMS

3. a Neptune Plus MC-ICPMS equipped with wet and dry (Aridus) aspirating systems, currently used for isotopic analysis of both solutions (Pb, Sr, Nd, Cu, Zn, Fe, Hf from bulk dissolved zircons) and laser-ablated aerosols;

Photon Machines G2 Analyte UV laser

4. a Photon Machines G2 Analyte UV laser, ArF Excimer 192 nm, that can be coupled to the Neptune Plus, currently used for in situ Hf isotope analyses of zircons. B isotope analyses of carbonates and U-Th analyses of zircons with the laser are under development.

Techniques and applications

Isotopic analyses of Sr, Nd, Pb, Cu, Zn and Fe extracted from complex matrices (see below). Click on each figure to access a list of selected related publications, theses and projects. For a more exhaustive list of publications, please click here.

Whole rock

1. Whole rock, bulk sediment and dust analysis. Applications: petrogenetic magmatic processes in various geodynamic settings, tectonic and paleo-environmental changes from sedimentary sequences and marine sediments, anthropogenic processes.

Mineral analysis

2. Mineral analysis (silicates, sulphides, sulphates, phosphates, oxides, carbonates). Applications: trace magmatic and ore processes.

Fluid Analysis Fluid analysis

3. Fluid analysis (fluid inclusions in minerals through the crush-leach technique, volcanic gases, organic fluids, waters). Applications: trace sources of fluids in ore deposits, behavior of metals during volcanic degassing, and contamination in the urban environment.

Fossil Analysis

4. Fossil analysis (carbonate and apatite down to sub-mg amounts). Applications: indirect dating of marine rocks (Sr isotope chronostratigraphic method) and tracing pre-historic human migrations.

Handcraft Analysis

5. Modern and ancient handcraft analysis. Applications: forensic and archeometric studies.

Research collaborations

The map below shows collaborations with research institutions worldwide.

Collaborations worldwideMap showing (red dots) the countries with which we have current or recent research collaborations.

Possibility of collaboration-based isotopic analyses

The isotopic tracing unit at UNIGE offers the possibility of carrying out isotopic analyses in the frame of scientific collaborative projects. For this we require an economic contribution to cover the running costs of the labs. For a quote of prices of isotopic analyses please contact:

Dr. Massimo Chiaradia (Senior Lecturer, MER)
University of Geneva
Section of Earth and Environmental Sciences
Department of Earth Sciences
Isotope Geochemistry, Geochronology and Thermochronology
Rue des Maraîchers 13
CH-1205 Geneva


+41 22 379 66 34 (office)
+41 22 379 66 24 (secretary)

Fax: 0041 22 379 32 10


1. Selection of related publications, PhD/MSc theses, and projects

  • The Miocene Mariño Formation (Central Argentinian foreland, Mendoza region): a high-resolution integrated study of sedimentary and palaeoenvironmental responses to tectonic and climatic forcing (SNF funded ongoing PhD Project N. 200021_146736).
  • Climate history of the Indo-Pacific region and subsurface biosphere of Lake Towuti: The Swiss contribution to the ICDP Towuti Drilling Project (research part) (SNF funded ongoing PhD Project N. 200021_153053).
  • Verdon, M. (2017) δ18O and δ66Zn stable isotope geochemistry of teh Northern Ecuadorian volcanic arc. Vulcano Island, Italy. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 140 pp.
  • Pujol Solà, N. (2016) Metal geochemistry and Cu-Zn isotope compositions of volcanic gas condensates and volcanic rocks: Vulcano Island, Italy. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 179 pp.
  • Farré de Pablo, J. (2016) Geochemistry and Cu-Zn isotope composition of volcanic rocks in Stromboli Island, Italy. Pujol Solà, N. (2016) Metal geochemistry and Cu-Zn isotope compositions of volcanic gas condensates and volcanic rocks: Vulcano Island, Italy. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 122 pp.
  • Pujol Solà, N. (2016) Metal geochemistry and Cu-Zn isotope compositions of volcanic gas condensates and volcanic rocks: Vulcano Island, Italy. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 179 pp.
  • Delibaş, O., Moritz, R., Ulianov, A., Chiaradia, M., Saraç, C., Kemal Revan, M., and Göç, D., 2016, Cretaceous Subduction-Related Magmatism and Associated Porphyry-Type Cu-Mo Prospects in the Eastern Pontides, Turkey : New Constraints from Geochronology and Geochemistry: Lithos, v. 248-251, p. 119–137.
  • Çelik, Ö.F., Chiaradia, M., Marzoli, A., Özkan, M., Billor, Z., and Topuz, G., 2016, Jurassic metabasic rocks in the Kızılırmak accretionary complex (Kargı region, Central Pontides, Northern Turkey): Tectonophysics, v. 672-673, p. 34–49.
  • Moritz, R., Rezeau, H., Ovtcharova, M., Tayan, R., Melkonyan, R., Hovakimyan, S., Ramazanov, V., Selby, D., Ulianov, A., Chiaradia, M., and Putlitz, B., 2016, Long-lived, stationary magmatism and pulsed porphyry systems during Tethyan subduction to post-collision evolution in the southernmost Lesser Caucasus, Armenia and Nakhitchevan: Gondwana Research, v. 37, p. 465-503.
  • Hürlimann, N., Muntener, O., Ulmer, P., Nandedkar, R., Chiaradia, M., and Ovtcharova, M., 2016, Primary Magmas in Continental Arcs and their Differentiated Products: Petrology of a Post-plutonic Dyke Suite in the Tertiary Adamello Batholith (Alps): Journal of Petrology, v. 57, no. 3, p. 495-534.
  • Oostingh, K.F., Jourdan, F., Merle, R., and Chiaradia, M., 2016, Spatio-temporal Geochemical Evolution of the SE Australian Upper Mantle Deciphered from the Sr, Nd and Pb Isotope Compositions of Cenozoic Intraplate Volcanic Rocks: Journal of Petrology, p. egw048.
  • Rodrigo-Gámiz, M., Martínez-Ruiz, F., Chiaradia, M., Jiménez-Espejo, F.J., and Ariztegui, D., 2015, Radiogenic isotopes for deciphering terrigenous input provenance in the western Mediterranean: Chemical Geology, v. 410, p. 237-250.
  • Beguelin, P., Chiaradia, M., Beate, B., and Spikings, R.A., 2015, The Yanaurcu volcano (Western Cordillera, Ecuador): A field, petrographic, geochemical, isotopic and geochronological study: Lithos, v. 218-219, p. 37-53.
  • Moghadam, H.S., Li, X.-H., Ling, X.-X., Stern, R.J., Khedr, M.Z., Chiaradia, M., Ghorbani, G., Arai, S., and Tamura, A., 2015, Devonian to Permian evolution of the Paleo-Tethys Ocean: New evidence from U–Pb zircon dating and Sr–Nd–Pb isotopes of the Darrehanjir–Mashhad "ophiolites", NE Iran: Gondwana Research, v. 28, p. 781-799.
  • Chelle-Michou, C., Chiaradia, M., Beguelin, P., and Ulianov, A., 2015, Petrological Evolution of the Magmatic Suite Associated with the Coroccohuayco Cu(–Au–Fe) Porphyry–Skarn Deposit, Peru: Journal of Petrology, v. 56, no. 9, p. 1829-1862.
  • Callegaro, S., Rapaille, C., Marzoli, A., Bertrand, H., Chiaradia, M., Reisberg, L., Bellieni, G., Martins, L., Madeira, J., Mata, J., Youbi, N., De Min, A., Azevedo, M.R., and Bensalah, M.K., 2014, Enriched mantle source for the Central Atlantic magmatic province: new supporting evidence from southwestern Europe: Lithos, v. 188, p. 15-32.
  • Marzoli, A., Jourdan, F., Bussy, F., Chiaradia, M., and Costa, F., 2014, Petrogenesis of tholeiitic basalts from the Central Atlantic magmatic province as revealed by mineral major and trace elements and Sr isotopes: Lithos, v. 188, p. 44-59.
  • Chiaradia, M., Muntener, O., and Beate, B., 2014, Quaternary Sanukitoid-like Andesites Generated by Intracrustal Processes (Chacana Caldera Complex, Ecuador): Implications for Archean Sanukitoids: Journal of Petrology, v. 55, no. 4, p. 769-802.
  • Moghadam, H.S., Corfu, F., Chiaradia, M., Stern, R.J., and Ghorbani, G., 2014, Sabzevar Ophiolite, NE Iran: Progress from embryonic oceanic lithosphere into magmatic arc constrained by new isotopic and geochemical data: Lithos, v. 210-211, p. 224-241.
  • Merle, R., Marzoli, A., Reisberg, L., Bertrand, H., Nemchin, A., Chiaradia, M., Callegaro, S., Jourdan, F., Bellieni, G., Kontak, D., Puffer, J., and McHone, J.G., 2014, Sr, Nd, Pb and Os Isotope Systematics of CAMP Tholeiites from Eastern North America (ENA): Evidence of a Subduction-enriched Mantle Source: Journal of Petrology, v. 55, no. 1, p. 133-180.
  • Maydagan, L., Franchini, M., Chiaradia, M., Dilles, J., and Rey, R., 2014, The Altar Porphyry Cu-(Au-Mo) Deposit (Argentina): A Complex Magmatic-Hydrothermal System with Evidence of Recharge Processes: Economic Geology, v. 109, no. 3, p. 621-641.
  • Leuthold, J., Muntener, O., Baumgartner, L.P., Putlitz, B., and Chiaradia, M., 2013, A Detailed Geochemical Study of a Shallow Arc-related Laccolith; the Torres del Paine Mafic Complex (Patagonia): Journal of Petrology, v. 54, no. 2, p. 273-303.
  • Çelik, Ö.F., Chiaradia, M., Marzoli, A., Billor, Z., and Marschik, R., 2013, The Eldivan ophiolite and volcanic rocks in the İzmir–Ankara–Erzincan suture zone, Northern Turkey: Geochronology, whole-rock geochemical and Nd–Sr–Pb isotope characteristics: Lithos, v. 172-173, p. 31-46.
  • Callegaro, S., Marzoli, A., Bertrand, H., Chiaradia, M., Reisberg, L., Meyzen, C., Bellieni, G., Weems, R.E., and Merle, R., 2013, Upper and lower crust recycling in the source of CAMP basaltic dykes from southeastern North America: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 376, p. 186-199.
  • Thevenon, F., Chiaradia, M., Adatte, T., Hueglin, C., Poté, J. (2012) Characterization of modern and fossil mineral dust transported to high-altitude in the Western Alps: Saharan sources and transport patterns. Advances in Meteorology, Volume 2012, Article ID 674385, 14 pages.
  • Boekhout, F., Spikings, R.A., Sempere, T., Chiaradia, M., Ulianov, A., and Schaltegger, U., 2012, Mesozoic arc magmatism along the southern Peruvian margin during Gondwana breakup and dispersal: Lithos, v. 146-147, p. 48-64.
  • Thevenon, F., Graham, N.D., Chiaradia, M., Arpagaus, P., Wildi, W., Poté, J. (2011) Local to regional scale industrial heavy metal pollution recorded in sediments of large freshwater lakes in Central Europe (lakes Geneva and Lucerne) over the last centuries. Science of the Total Environment, v. 412–413, 239-247.
  • Thevenon, F., Guédron, S., Chiaradia, M., Loizeau, J.-L., Poté, J. (2011) (Pre-)historic changes in natural and anthropogenic heavy metals deposition inferred from two contrasting Swiss Alpine lakes. Quaternary Science Reviews, v. 30, 224-233.
  • Chiaradia, M., Müntener, O., Beate, B. (2011) Enriched andesites from high-pressure fractional crystallization, mixing, and crustal assimilation (Pilavo volcano, Western Cordillera of Ecuador). Journal of Petrology, v. 52, 1107-1141.
  • Chiaradia, M., Merino, D., Spikings, R. (2009) Rapid transition to long-lived deep crustal magmatic maturation and the formation of giant porphyry-related mineralization (Yanacocha, Peru). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 288, 505-515.
  • Chiaradia, M. (2009) Adakite-like rocks from fractional crystallization and assimilation of mafic lower crust: Eocene Macuchi arc (Western Cordillera, Ecuador). Chemical Geology, v. 265, p. 468–487.
  • Chiaradia, M., Müntener, O., Beate, B., Fontignie, D. (2009) Adakite-like volcanism of Ecuador: lower crust magmatic evolution and recycling. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, v. 158, p. 563–588.
  • Chiaradia, M., and Cupelin, F. (2000) Gas-to-particle conversion of mercury, arsenic and selenium through reactions with traffic-related compounds in Geneva? Indications from lead isotopes. Atmospheric Environment, v. 34, p. 327-332.
  • Chiaradia, M., and Cupelin, F. (2000) Behaviour of airborne lead and temporal variations of its source effects in Geneva (Switzerland): comparison of anthropogenic versus natural processes. Atmospheric Environment, v. 34, p. 959-972.

2. Selection of related publications, PhD/MSc theses, and projects

  • Baresel, B., d'Abzac, F.-X., Bucher, H., and Schaltegger, U., 2017, High-precision time-space correlation through coupled apatite and zircon tephrochronology: An example from the Permian-Triassic boundary in South China: Geology, v. 45, no. 1, p. 83-86.
  • D'Abzac, F.-X., Davies, J., Wotzlaw, J.F., and Schaltegger, U., 2016, Hf isotope analysis of small zircon and baddeleyite grains by conventional Multi Collector-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry: Chemical Geology, v. 433, p. 12-23.
  • Rottier, B. (2016) Magmatic and hydrothermal fluid processes at the origin of the giant porphyry-related epithermal polymetallic deposit of Cerro de Pasco (Central Peru): Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Geneva, 433 pp.
  • Sauterel, F. (2016) Cu, Zn and Pb isotopic compositions of enargite of teh Colquijirca deposit, Peru. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 88 pp. (in French).
  • Saintilan, N., Spangenberg, J.E., Samankassou, E., Kouzmanov, K., Chiaradia, M., Stephens, M.B., and Fontboté, L., 2016, A refined genetic model for the Laisvall and Vassbo Mississippi Valley-type sandstone-hosted deposits, Sweden: constraints from paragenetic studies, organic geochemistry, and S, C, N, and Sr isotope data: Mineralium Deposita, v. 51, p. 639–664.
  • Beaudoin, G., and Chiaradia, M., 2016, Fluid mixing in orogenic gold deposits: Evidence from the H-O-Sr isotope composition of the Val-d'Or vein field (Abitibi, Canada): Chemical Geology, v. 437, p. 7-18.
  • Saintilan, N., Schneider, J., Stephens, M.B., Chiaradia, M., Kouzmanov, K., Wälle, M., and Fontboté, L., 2015, A Middle Ordovician age for the Laisvall sandstone-hosted Pb-Zn deposit, Sweden: A response to early Caledonian orogenic activity: Economic Geology, v. 110, p. 1779-1801.
  • Ewing, T.A., Muntener, O., Leuthold, J., Chiaradia, M., Baumgartner, L.P., and Putlitz, B. (2014) Rapid Rejuvenation of the Source of a Backarc Sheeted Magmatic Complex (Torres del Paine, Patagonia): Evidence From Hf isotopes in Zircon. AGU Fall Meeting Abstracts, Vol. 1, pages 2.
  • Chiaradia, M., Konopelko, D, Seltmann, R., and Cliff, R. A. (2006) Lead isotope variations across terrane boundaries of the Tien Shan and Chinese Altay. Mineralium Deposita, v. 41, p. 411-428.
  • Chiaradia, M., Fontboté, L., and Paladines, A. (2004) Metal sources in mineral deposits and crustal rocks of Ecuador (1°N-4°S): a lead isotope synthesis. Economic Geology, v. 99, p. 1085-1106.
  • Tornos, F., and Chiaradia, M. (2004) Plumbotectonic evolution of the Ossa Morena zone: constraints from the lead isotope geochemistry of the ore deposits. Economic Geology, v. 99, p. 965-985.
  • Marschik, R., Chiaradia, M., and Fontboté, L. (2003) Implications of Pb isotope signatures of rocks and iron oxide Cu-Au ores in the Candelaria-Punta del Cobre district, Chile. Mineralium Deposita, v. 38, 900-912.
  • Requia, K., Stein, H., Fontboté, L., and Chiaradia, M. (2003) Re-Os and Pb-Pb geochronology in the Salobo iron oxide copper-gold deposit, Carajás Mineral Province, northern Brazil. Mineralium Deposita, 38, 727-738.

3. Selection of related publications, PhD/MSc theses, and projects

  • Rottier, B. (2016) Magmatic and hydrothermal fluid processes at the origin of the giant porphyry-related epithermal polymetallic deposit of Cerro de Pasco (Central Peru): Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Geneva, 433 pp.
  • Pujol Solà, N. (2016) Metal geochemistry and Cu-Zn isotope compositions of volcanic gas condensates and volcanic rocks: Vulcano Island, Italy. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 179 pp.
  • Gonus, J. (2014) Sr isotope compositions of fluid inclusions in volcanic rocks :
  • a test to evaluate their applicability for tracking open system evolution of magmas. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 173 pp.
  • Lutgardo Pérez, J. (2012) Chlorine and strontiumisotopic compositions of magmatic fluids associated with porphyry-type deposits: a latitudinal along-arc study of porphyry systems of teh Chilean, Peruvian and Ecuadorian Andes. Unpublished MSc Thesis, University of Geneva, 56 pp.

4. Selection of related publications, PhD/MSc theses, and projects

  • Sea-level and climate events during the past 30 million years: the record from fossil reefs, coastal deposits and dolostones from Mayaguana, Great Inagua, Crooked and Acklins Islands, SE Bahamas (Project N. 200020_140420). Ongoing PhD project.
  • Kocsis, L., Gheerbrant, E., Mouflih, M., Cappetta, H., Ulianov, A., Chiaradia, M., and Bardet, N., 2016, Gradual changes in upwelled seawater conditions (redox, pH) from the late Cretaceous through early Paleogene at the northwest coast of Africa: Negative Ce anomaly trend recorded in fossil bio-apatite: Chemical Geology, v. 421, p. 44-54.
  • Slootman, A., Cartigny, M.J.B., Moscariello, A., Chiaradia, M., and de Boer, P.L., 2016, Quantification of tsunami-induced flows on a Mediterranean carbonate ramp reveals catastrophic evolution: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 444, p. 192-204.
  • Pirouz, M., Simpson, G., and Chiaradia, M., 2015, Constraint on foreland basin migration in the Zagros mountain belt using Sr isotope stratigraphy: Basin Research, v. 27/6, p. 714–728.
  • Föllmi, K.B., Hofmann, H., Chiaradia, M., de Kaenel, E., Frijia, G., and Parente, M., 2015, Miocene phosphate-rich sediments in Salento (southern Italy): Sedimentary Geology, v. 327, p. 55–71.
  • Callegaro, S., Rigo, M., Chiaradia, M., and Marzoli, A., 2012, Latest Triassic marine Sr isotopic variations, possible causes and implications: Terra Nova, v. 24, no. 2, p. 130-135.
  • Kindler, P., Godefroid, F., Chiaradia, M., Ehlert, C., Eisenhauer, A., Frank, M., Hasler, C.-A., Samankassou, E. (2011) Discovery of Miocene to lower Pleistocene deposits on Mayaguana, Bahamas: evidence for recent active tectonism on the North American margin. Geology, v. 39/6, 523-526.
  • Chiaradia, M., Gallay, A. and Todt, W. (2003) Differential lead and strontium contamination styles of prehistoric human teeth at a Swiss necropolis (Sion, Valais). Applied Geochemistry, 18, 353-370.

5. Selection of related publications, PhD/MSc theses, and projects

  • End-Neolithic Cu trade between France and Spain using Pb isotope tracing of handcrafts. Ongoing PhD project in collaboration with University of Bourgougne (France).
  • Tracing the source of gold manufactured in Switzerland. Ongoing research project in collaboration with Metalor Technologies SA.
  • Gulson, B., Chiaradia, M., Davis, J., and O'Connor, G., 2016, Impact on the environment from steel bridge paint deterioration using lead isotopic tracing, paint compositions and soil deconstruction: Science of the Total Environment, v. 550, p. 69-72.
  • Molin, G., Pinarelli, L., Salviulo, G., and Chiaradia, M. (2003) Indagini sulle reliquie attribuite a “san Luca Evangelista”, Basilica di Santa Giustina in Padova: studio isotopic e microchimico del piombo, della bara e delle epigrafi. In V. T. Wiel Marin and F. G. B. Trolese, eds., San Luca Evangelista testimone della fede che unisce, Atti del Congresso Internazionale, Padova, 16-21 Ottobre 2000, II. I risultati scientifici sulla ricognizione delel reliquie attribuite a San Luca, p. 467-481.