The Birth - The Vision of Dr. Jan Veizer (1983)
The Stable Isotope Laboratory, as it was initially known, was established in 1983 by Dr. Jan Veizer in the Department of Geology (now the Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences) at the University of Ottawa. From 1984 to 1988, Dr. Bruce Taylor of the Geological Survey of Canada was acting supervisor to the laboratory and helped set the stage for its evolution. The first instruments were purchased thanks to Dr. Veizer's and Dr. Keiko Hattori's NSERC grants; they were VG602E and VGSira12 dual-inlet isotope ratio mass spectrometers. The lab prepared carbonate, water (oxygen), and sulphur samples off-line, collecting the gases in Pyrex breakseals. Dave Ryan was hired as a lab manager in 1983; he was replaced in 1985 by Gilles St-Jean.
New Management - Gilles St-Jean (1988)
In 1988, when Dr. Bruce Taylor's research demands at the Geological Survey required him to give up his supervisory role at the Lab, Dr. Veizer gave Gilles St-Jean full management control of the Lab. Gilles was able to design new and modify old extraction lines as well as modify mass spectrometers to keep the Lab competitive through the 1990's.
The laboratory's original mass spectrometers underwent considerable modifications and improvements during the course of the lab's history. In 1989, the VG SIRA-12 unit was fitted with a new polymer-based micro-inlet, which permitted the measurement of samples one order of magnitude smaller (< 1 micromole). In the early 1990's, a Nd-YAG laser for micro-sampling of sulphides, and a second VGSira12 mass spectrometer were acquired. This third mass spectrometer was also retrofitted with a micro-inlet and automated. A deuterium preparation line was constructed, expanding the laboratory's capabilities. An in-house auto-water system was built allowing automatic analysis of oxygen in waters. An extraction line for CO2 trapped in ice cores was added in 1997.
New Quarters - Marion Hall (1994)
In 1994, the laboratory moved to the newly renovated Marion Hall building, leaving behind tight and scattered laboratory space. These new quarters, although of lesser actual floor space, were custom designed by Gilles and furnished for a modern laboratory, thereby greatly increasing the lab's efficiency.
A Turning Point - Continuous Flow (1997)
Further significant expansion of the lab's analytical capabilities was made possible in 1997 by the acquisition (initially a loan) of a Finnigan MAT Delta plus continuous flow mass spectrometer coupled with a Gas Chromatograph, a Pre-Con device, and a CE Elemental Analyser. This instrument was the first one in Canada and proved to be an incredible success. The donation of a second CE-2500 Elemental Analyser by Isomass Scientific Inc also added greatly to the lab's off-line capabilities.
A New Name - From SIL to G.G. Hatch SIL (1997)
In April 1997, Dr. Jan Veizer was named the holder of a new NSERC/Noranda/CIAR Earth System Chair in the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Ottawa. This Chair enabled Dr. Veizer and his team to continue their research on carbon cycles in rivers and oceans. As a board member for the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIAR), Dr. Gerald G. Hatch, one of Canada’s most innovative metallurgical engineers and business leaders, contributed generously to the Chair. In view of Dr. Hatch's constant support of Dr. Veizer's research and the extensive number of analyses that were run in the isotope lab under this umbrella, the lab was renamed the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory.
New management - Paul Middlestead (2001)
In September 2000, Gilles St-Jean's position shifted to that of Research Scientist with a support grant from Isomass Scientific Inc. The position included application support and training through Isomass for new Canadian, US and international Finnigan MAT users. Gilles remained associated with the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Laboratory as researcher and resource person, providing support on various research projects.
In February 2001, the Lab was fortunate to be able to fill the vacant Lab Manager position by re-hiring Paul Middlestead (Lab Manager at the University of Western Ontario for 12 years). Paul is an alumnus of the Department of Earth Sciences as well as a former contract employee of the Lab from 1983 to 1988. Paul was able to bring on-line some techniques such as sulphur, dissolved oxygen in waters and deuterium while streamlining the existing techniques.
CFI Grant and Renovations (2002)
In the fall of 2001 Dr. Ian Clark, the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Lab, and other researchers, submitted a grant application to the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), for four new instruments. The application was successful and the Lab received just over $2 million.
The year 2002 was occupied with planning and preparations for the new equipment.
The result was a Lab with five Continuous Flow Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometers (CF-IRMS), state of the art instrumentation. The first new mass spectrometer (Artemis), a Delta Plus XP with Gasbench, arrived in the late spring 2003. The second mass spectrometer (Bacchus) was another Delta Plus XP, and was initially coupled with our GC's (GC-C & GC-TC) and Pre-Con. The third machine to arrive was a basic Delta Plus Advantage (Phusis) for use with an elemental analyser for CN isotopes. The last new machine to arrive was the special order Delta Plus XP. This machine was intended to be the sulphur machine, coupled with an elemental analyser, two lasers with Gasbench, and also a TC/EA. Thus with our original Delta Plus floor model (Zeus) coupled with the TIC/TOC analyser and the VarioEL III, our capabilities had become quite extensive. The Lab now hosted the complete array of peripherals available from the manufacturer.
Second CFI Grant (2008) and New ARC Building (2014)
In 2008, a $22 million CFI grant application, based on the success of the Hatch lab first application, was submitted and ultimately approved for purchasing Canada's only AMS. Many changes occurred over the next few years including the construction of a new building to house the central acquisition of the proposal, a brand new AMS machine, as well as other supporting labs including the G.G. Hatch Stable Isotope Lab. The Lab received a new Thermo Delta+ V IRMS as well as several peripherals: GC Isolink, LC Isolink, Aurora with combustion unit, Isotope Cube, Pyro Cube, etc.
The Hatch Lab team, Paul, Patricia and Wendy, is very proud to have been instrumental in the success of the application.
Gilles St-Jean moved to a new position with other responsibilities. His time was divided between his former duties with Isomass, and over-seeing the developments and planning associated with the new building and eventually became technical manager for the AMS labs.
The Hatch Lab successfully moved entirely over to the new state-of-the-art Advanced Research Complex (ARC) building in April 2014. The month of May was taken up with unpacking and set-up. The Lab was partly up and running by the beginning of June and fully functional within about 6 months.
Kerry Klassen Joins the Fold (2016)
Kerry Klassen joined the Lab April 1, 2017. She took over the training courses offered by Isomass Scientific and hosted at the G.G. Hatch Lab. She also brings her many years of experience to boost the daily functioning of the Lab.
Full Circle - Honouring Dr. Ján Veizer
The lab is very happy to announce a name change to finally honour our founder and long-time supporter Dr. Ján Veizer. A wonderful ceremony was held October 25, 2018 to officially announce the name change, and to unveil a plaque that will be mounted in a place of honour just outside the lab.