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Monitoring isotopes online in caves

Thermo kindly provided a Delta Ray isotope ratio infrared spectrometer in order to test the field applicability of this new type of instrument capable of simultaneously recording stable isotope properties of carbon and oxygen of carbon dioxide at high temporal resolution in an online mode. We opted for Spannagel Cave, whose modern cave microclimate is well understood and a key to interpret speleothems in alpine cave settings. The present-day conditions at Spannagel, i.e. temperatures barely above the freezing point, provide a harsh testbed for this new instrument.
Thanks to Thermo (M. Mandic, S. Nils, H.J. Jost, G. Zinsberger) for loaning us this device. We are also grateful to the Zillertaler Gletscherbahn (M. Dengg) and the Spannagel show cave (C. Anfang) for their on-site support.
Photos: Robbie Shone.