23 Feb 2024
 | 23 Feb 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Technical note: A fast and objective autosampler for direct vapor equilibration isotope measurements

Jonas Pyschik, Stefan Seeger, Barbara Herbstritt, and Markus Weiler

Abstract. To investigate water movement in environmental systems, stable water isotopes (2H and 18O) are commonly used tracers. Analyzing the isotopic composition of water bonded to substances like soil or plant tissue necessitates its extraction prior to analysis. One such method, direct vapor equilibration, is popular due to its cost-effectiveness and straightforward sample processing. However, sample analysis requires a significant manual labor, thereby limiting the number of samples that can be analyzed. This limitation is compounded by the fact that stored samples undergo isotopic composition changes over time, and in addition manual measurements may lack objectivity. To address these challenges, we have developed a device that automates the analysis process. Our vapor autosampler for vapour samples, named VapAuSa, features a modular design with up to 350 ports for direct vapor equilibration samples. These ports sequentially connect the prepared samples to the analyzer, enabling continuous automatic measurements. Within the accompanying software, measurement criteria can be specified, facilitating objective analysis. VapAuSa measurements have a similar uncertainty compared to manual analysis of identical samples (VapAuSa δ2H = +/− 4.5 ‰ δ18O = +/− 0.58 ‰ vs. manual δ2H = +/− 5.7 ‰ δ18O = +/− 0.37 ‰). However, the increased sample throughput minimizes storage-induced isotopic changes. Moreover, VapAuSa triples sample throughput per week while reducing direct labor time to just 10 % of manual processing.

Jonas Pyschik, Stefan Seeger, Barbara Herbstritt, and Markus Weiler

Status: open (until 20 Apr 2024)

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  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-528', Anonymous Referee #1, 25 Mar 2024 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-528', Anonymous Referee #2, 29 Mar 2024 reply
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-528', Fabio Marzaioli, 09 Apr 2024 reply
Jonas Pyschik, Stefan Seeger, Barbara Herbstritt, and Markus Weiler
Jonas Pyschik, Stefan Seeger, Barbara Herbstritt, and Markus Weiler


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Short summary
We developed a device which automates the analysis process of stable water isotopes. Stable water isotopes are a natural tracer which many researchers use to investigate water (re-)distribution processes in environmental systems. The device helps to analyse such environmental samples by automating a formerly tidious manual labor process, alowwing for a higher sample throughput. This enables larger sampling campaigns, since more samples can be processed before reaching their limited storage time.