Iolite Community Development

*** Updated with interference goodness! ***

Seeing as it’s been a while since we last posted to the blog, we thought it’d be a good idea to point out that the Iolite team aren’t the only ones working on Iolite. There are others who are improving Iolite by adding their own features to make their data reduction easier or better in some way. Here’s just a couple of examples:

Interference Calculator

Knowing what possible interferences may affect your data can be difficult to keep track off if you analyse a variety of matrix types. Some mass spectrometers come with software that lists interferences, but what if you’re processing your data away from the mass spec? What if you’d like to know what resolution you’d need to resolve an interference? Well, Martin Schiller from StarPlan in Copenhagen (with others) has written an AddOn for Iolite that will give you all sorts of information about possible interferences for a given mass. It even plots the interferences with your isotope of interest in a ‘Faraday view” which is a really neat way of visualising it. Check out this post for more details.

Keep Notes with a Notebook:

If you find yourself trying lots of different approaches during your data reduction, or even if you’d just like to note down what variables you’ve used, Iolite has you covered thanks to the AddOn written by John Creech from Victoria University. In this post, he describes how you can add a menu item to the Iolite menu which will pop up a notebook window where you can write in all your data reduction notes. Since is stays with the experiment (that is, within the .pxp file) it’s always there when you’re looking at your data, even if you move the experiment between computers or even send it to your collaborators. I’ve started using it and I think it’s very handy.


One of the most popular uses of Iolite is its U-Pb data reduction abilities. This has been expanded upon by Joe Petrus at Laurentian University who wrote VizualAge. If you don’t know about VizualAge, you should check out the paper they published in the latest issue of Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research:

Petrus, J.A. & Kamber, B.S. (2012) VizualAge: a novel approach to laser ablation ICPMS U-Pb geochronology data reduction. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research 36, 3 p. 247-269.

It’s a pretty large paper and full of examples. Well worth a read. You can download VizualAge from Joe’s webpage here.

Log Data Reader

A lot of analysts are realising how important metadata are. Instrument settings like vacuum pressure readings, lens settings and gas flows can all influence the quality of our data. The trouble is, they can be hard to keep track of, even if they are recorded in a human readable format. One step towards being able to evaluate your metadata along with your measurements is the Log Data Reader AddOn written by Martin Schiller and John Creech. So far it can read Nu Plasma and Thermo log files. Check out this post for more info.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. If you have written any additional code snippets to help you while using Iolite, we encourage you to post them to the forum where others can use them, and possibly even build on them too.

Iolite: upcoming developments

Meanwhile, Chad and I are busy working on core developments for Iolite. We’re looking at some pretty fundamental changes that will probably be released as Iolite version 3. This will include upgrades to raw data importers, some really nifty improvements to how time resolved data are treated by Iolite, and a whole new user interface. Iolite v3 is a little way off, but in the meantime, we’ll be releasing importers for Spectro machines and the iCAP Q, and a deconvolution tool we’re writing a paper on, a new laser mapping procedure (previewed at the IGC conference in Brisbane in August), along with a few other data visualisation tools, and the usual bug fixes.

Don’t forget that we’re hoping to run a workshop at the Goldschmidt conference in Florence Italy in 2013, which will run over one and a half days. Hopefully this will give us enough time to take users from absolute beginners to confident gurus, with plenty of example applications.

As always, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to start a new topic on the Iolite forum.

The Iolite Team