GT1 - Group training on metrology in isotope ratio measurements: traceability, uncertainty and comparability, Ljubljana, December 7, 2016

The aim of the training was to provide participants with the necessary knowledge to produce quality assured stable isotope ratio data based on metrological principles. The target audience of the course were early stage researchers (doctoral and postdoctoral level) and application scientists from the EU networks involved in using isotopic methods in food characterisation although the methods discussed are applicable to analytical chemistry in general. The event was organised to coincide with the ERA Chair ISO-FOOD workshop on "Isotopic Techniques in Food Characterization" held on 8th to 9th December 2016 in order to allow participants to attend both training event and workshop.

A series of lectures covered the main concepts of metrology and metrological principles, estimating measurement uncertainty and the use of certified reference materials. The training illustrated the implementation of the principle, the monitoring of measurement quality, the status of the international scales and reference materials and necessary correction procedures. The metrological concepts involving (comparability, traceability etc.) and a generic scheme for the uncertainty evaluation was presented and discussed. Further, it was stressed out that Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) fail to meet the increasingly stringent isotopic measurement needed. The need for high-quality isotopic reference materials (RMs) that closely match food samples and have isotopic compositions similar to the natural systems was also proposed. All these metrological principles should be implemented in stable isotope laboratories in order to provide comparable and quality data that could form global scale databases.

Key lectures

Dr Philip Dunn (LGC Ltd): Estimation of measurement uncertainty of stable Isotope ratio delta values (presentation)

Following a PhD at the University of Bristol, UK under the supervision of Richard Evershed FRS, where he applied both stable- and radio-carbon isotope analysis of individual amino acids isolated from archaeological bone collagen to investigate palaeodiet, Philip Dunn joined LGC Ltd. (The UK’s National Measurement Laboratory and Designated Institute (DI) for chemical and bio-measurement) as a researcher in IRMS in 2010. Since then he has worked on research projects including the isotopic analysis of hair and biofuels and helped to characterise the first reference material certified for absolute carbon isotope ratios.  Philip has lead a work package within a European Metrology Research Programme project examining mercury isotope ratio measurements and co-ordinated a Key Comparison for the Inorganic Analysis Working Group of the CCQM on stable isotope delta values.  Philip is currently the Chair of the Forensic Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (FIRMS) Network.


Dr Manfred Gröning (IAEA Environment Laboratories): Basic concept and the use of RM in stable isotope metrology (presentation)

Manfred Gröning obtained his PhD in 1994 in Environmental Physics at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, on “Deep Groundwater Circulation in France and Paleoclimatology in Sudan”, while specializing on groundwater and noble gas analysis for paleo-temperature reconstructions. He then went on to perform post-doctoral studies (1994-1995) at the Institute of Environmental Physics at University of Heidelberg to study of geological waste repositories in Germany. then in 1995 he moved to the IAEA to become head the Isotope Hydrology Laboratory aiming to support isotope laboratories worldwide with proper calibration means and featuring high precision analyses, including responsibility for stable isotope reference products. In 2011 he then joined the IAEA Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Seibersdorf to become responsibility for their stable isotope reference products. Since 2012 he has served as Section Head of the Terrestrial Environment Laboratory, Division of Environment Laboratories, IAEA, Subprogramme Manager for IAEA reference products (stable isotopes, radionuclides and trace elements) responsible for quality assurance for isotope laboratories worldwide and responsibility for all IAEA reference materials to calibrate laboratory measurements; Responsibility for IAEA terrestrial environment activities in assessment, management and remediation. In 2006, he became a Member of the Commission on Isotopic Abundances and Atomic Weights (CIAAW), operating under auspices of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry and since 2010 as a Titular Member therein being the Chair of its Subcommittee on Stable Isotope Reference Material Assessment.


Prof Paula Iacumin (University of Parma, Department of Physic and Earth Sciences): Calibration of the δ values: problems with different approaches (presentation)

Dr. Paola Iacumin is currently working as Associated Professor in Geochemistry at the University of Parma (Italy); in charge of the Laboratory of Isotope Geochemistry; President of the Degree in Geological Sciences and of the Master Degree in Geological Sciences and Technologies. Her research activity has developed, since 1989, in the specific context of the application of stable isotope geochemistry techniques to diverse fields of Earth Sciences, and in particular on palaeodiet and palaeoclimatology.


Dr Arndt Schimmelmann (Biogeochemical Laboratories, Department of Geological Sciences, USA): Lessons learned from the development of organic stable isotope reference materials  (presentation)                   

 Arndt Schimmelmann received his M.Sc. Chemistry, from the University of Braunschweig, Federal Republic of Germany 1979 and Ph.D. in Geochemistry, University of California in Los Angeles, USA1985. His scientific positions include Postdoc, 1985-1988, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and then between 1988-1993, as a specialist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography before becoming a Senior Scientist at the Indiana University, Department of Geological Sciences. His current research activities include the development of organic hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen stable isotope reference materials, research into shale gas, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, paleoclimatology of laminated sediments, radon isotopes in soil-built dwellings in developing countries, subterranean methanotrophic consumption of atmospheric methane.


Dr. Claudia Zoani (ENEA): METROFOOD-RI: a new Pan-EU Research Infrastructure for promoting metrology in food and nutrition (presentation)                   

 Researcher at ENEA, graduated in Chemistry in 2005, with a PhD in Analytical Chemistry (2010), she is concluding a second PhD in Agriculture, Food and Environment. Specialist on atomic spectroscopic and mass spectrometry techniques and Metrology, she conducts R&D activities on: development and validation of analytical methods; production and certification of Reference Materials; assessment of measurement uncertainty; qualification and characterization of materials and processes; agro-ecosystem monitoring; food quality & safety; traceability of raw materials and products; identification of markers (of quality, origin) and chemical risk assessment. She conducts educational and training activities for graduation and post-graduation (professional training, international fellowships). External reviewer for different Journals and Member of the Organizing Committees and Scientific Reviewer for International Conferences (AISEM 2011, International Conference 1st IMEKOFOODS - Oct. 2014, where she was also Guest Editor of the dedicated Special Issue on ACTA IMEKO); Technical Chair of 2nd IMEKOFOODS (Benevento, 2nd-5th October 2016). Member of the Technical Scientific Committee of the public-private jointly owned consortium Ce.R.T.A. (Regional Centres for Alimentary Technology). Author or co-author of more than 70 Publications (journal papers, book chapters, conference proceedings with referees and technical reports). Awarded with the Premio Leonardo UGIG “Comunicare la ricerca”- IV Edition 2014.