MIT Stable Isotope Laboratory

Our interests lie in interplay among atmosphere, rock, water and microbe.  We apply stable isotope systems, in particular, multiple-sulfur isotope ratios to explore frontiers in isotope geochemistry.  Our current research projects include, photochemical sulfur isotope effect, early microbial evolution, deep biosphere, and seafloor hydrothermal deposits.  In addition, new project is starting under the NSF-MRI support to develop the state-of-the-art instrument for isotopomer monitoring of atmospheric nitrous oxide (with Ron Prinn of EPAS and Center of Global Change Science). Interested students are encouraged to inquire about potential research projects in the laboratory.


Set up for SO2 photolysis to test S-MIF signatures as a function of pSO2, pN2, and UV sources.  The experiments provide some key insights into the source of S-MIF signatures in Archean rocks.

Recent Publications from the lab

News article:

Sulfur Disproportionation?: Astrobiology.Network

Unlocking Sulfur’s Secrets, Editor’s Choice, Science, 4/5/2013

Our JGR paper is highlighted by Editor’s Choice in Science, April 5 2013

Unlocking Sulfur’s Secrets

SO2 pressure dependence of S-MIF during SO2 photolsyis under ~200 nm broadband radiation (from Ono et al.,2013, JGR-Atmosphere)

Ono, S., A. Whitehill* and J. Lyons (2013) Contribution of isotopologue self-shielding to sulfur mass-independent fractionation during sulfur dioxide photolysis. Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmosphere. DOI: 10.1002/jgrd.50183

Lever, M. A., Rouxel, O., Alt, J. C., Shimizu, N., Ono, S., Coggon, R. M., Shanks, W. C., et al. (2013). Evidence for Microbial Carbon and Sulfur Cycling in Deeply Buried Ridge Flank Basalt. Science, 339(6125), 1305–1308

Sim, M.S.*, S. Ono, T. Bosak, (2012) Effects of Iron and Nitrogen Limitation on Sulfur Isotope Fractionation during Microbial Sulfate Reduction.  Applied and Environmental Microbiology. doi:10.1128/AEM.01842-12

Whitehill A.*, S, Ono (2012) Excitation band dependence of sulfur isotope mass-independent fractionation during photolysis of sulfur dioxide using broadband light sources. Geochimica Cosmochimica Acta, , Geochemica Cosmochimica Acta 94, 238-253

Guy, B. M., Ono, S., Gutzmer, J., Kaufman, A. J., Lin, Y*., Fogel, M. L., & Beukes, N. J. (2012). A multiple sulfur and organic carbon isotope record from non-conglomeratic sedimentary rocks of the Mesoarchean Witwatersrand Supergroup , South Africa, Precambrian Research, 219, 208–231.

Ono, S., N. Keller*, O. Rouxel, J. Alt, (2012) Sulfur-33 constraints on the origin of secondary pyrite in altered ocean basement, Geochemica Cosmochimica Acta 87, 323-340

Sim M.S.*., T. Bosak, and S. Ono (2011) Large sulfur isotope fractionation does not require disproportionation, Science, 333, 74-77