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Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory (RSIL)

Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory - Isotope Fractionation Project

  • Project Chief: Tyler B. Coplen
  • Location: 431 National Center, Reston, VA 20192
  • Organizational Unit: Isotope Fractionation Project, National Research Program, WRD (Office of Hydrologic Research, Branch of Regional Research--Eastern Region)

  Tyler Coplen adjusting the vacuum line.
Tyler Coplen, adjusting high vacuum line, Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory, USGS National Center, Reston, VA, USA
  Kinga Revesz collecting samples in the field.
Kinga Revesz, sampling for water isotopes, NAWC field site, Trenton, NJ, USA
  Stan Mroczkowski and Janet Hannon leading Science Camp at USGS National Center.
Stan Mroczkowski and Janet Hannon leading Science Camp at USGS National Center, Reston, VA, USA


The Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory conducts research on the use of isotope ratio measurements in studies of water resources and environmental quality. One objective of the RSIL project is to develop new techniques for isotopic analysis of oxygen-, sulfur-, carbon-, hydrogen-, and nitrogen- bearing materials. New analytical techniques expand the range of tools available for studying the movement of those elements in hydrologic and biogeochemical systems. Another objective of the project is to test new applications of isotope measurements in specific field settings. Field studies of isotope behavior have contributed to understanding water-supply sustainability, ground-water/surface-water interactions, paleoclimate history, biologic cycling of nutrients, ground-water contamination, and natural remediation. This project also contributes to the improvement of measurement science and the development of isotope databases, as well as providing isotope analyses on a routine basis to a large user community both within and outside of the USGS.

Service Lab

The Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory (RSIL) is an entity that produces hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and sulfur stable isotope ratio analyses of water, rock, and biological samples for the operational and research components of the U.S. Geological Survey. It is located in the John Powell National Center, Reston, Virginia.