Sensitive High Resolution Ion Microprobe (SHRIMP)

The Sensitive High Resolution Ion MicroProbe (SHRIMP) uses a focused high-energy ion beam to sputter erode samples. Some of the material coming from the surface becomes ionized and this can be extracted electrostatically into a mass spectrometer. The SHRIMP mass spectrometer has high mass resolving power to separate atomic and molecular species. The mass spectrometer is large in order to maintain the sensitivity required for the analysis of trace element ions in a few nanograms of material.

SHRIMP is typically concerned with determination of ion ratios in geologic materials. Probe pits are typically 10-30 µm in diameter and a few micrometers deep. As such SHRIMP allows virtually nondestructive in-situ isotopic analysis of geologic materials. Such materials include polished grain mounts and thin sections. Samples are generally characterized with visual and electron imaging prior to analysis.

Applications include U-Pb geochronology, trace element geochemistry, stable isotope analysis, and measurement of cosmochemical effects in extraterrestrial samples. Three SHRIMP instruments are currently in use (SHRIMP I, II, RG) with a fourth under construction (SHRIMP SI). SHRIMP instruments are constructed commercially in Canberra at Australian Scientific Instruments and have been exported to a number of laboratories overseas.

For more complete information on SHRIMP, visit the SHRIMP website


There are some changes to the running of the SHRIMP lab in 2021.

A Steering Committee has been set up to oversee the operation of the lab. Currently it consists of Penny King (Chair), Dorrit Jacob and Ian Williams. The primary role of the committee will be to make policy decisions about the running of the lab, both short and long term. 

The SHRIMP lab now has its own e-mail address - - for all correspondence relating to SHRIMP matters. 

Prospective users are asked to lodge written bids for SHRIMP time using the following form SHRIMP request form. Please send a separate form for each SHRIMP on which you’d like time. Inexperienced users requiring assistance must identify an experienced minder who must be offered co-authorship when the results are published. 

Bids should be lodged by the 15th of each month. Forms will be returned with the scheduled dates, and the SHRIMP Google calendar ( on the RSES intranet will be updated, well before the end of the month. This system aims to ensure more efficient use of SHRIMP time by minimising the number of changes to instrument configuration, especially on the SHRIMP SI. Short-term external visitors are exempt from this system. The Committee should be advised of the timing of such visits and instrument requirements as far in advance as possible.  

Related links