Sample Submission

Please contact us for specific details on how to sample and to submit your samples for isotope analysis.


NOTE: All parcels containing samples of non-New Zealand origin for isotope analysis MUST be accompanied by the Import Permit, and have the permit number written on the outside of the package. 

Documents for Download (complete and email to us as Excel file):

1. How to send samples
2. Documentation
3. Sample Types and Sizes
4. Reporting Times

1. How to send samples

Use courier or registered post. Trackable courier despatch or registered post is recommended. Samples are acknowledged on receipt by us and assigned a SIL Order Number, a unique identifier of your samples. Couriers commonly used include DHL and Federal Express but also consider your postal services as they usually have fixed price postage Priority or Express Mail International tracked envelopes or boxes allowing up to some maximum weight.

Label package: "Samples for Scientific Analysis – chemical and physical - no commercial value".

Send samples to:

GNS Stable Isotope Laboratory
GNS Science
30 Gracefield Road, Gracefield
Lower Hutt 5010
New Zealand

Note: Honey extractions are only carried out on Monday and Thursday so we suggest you time delivery of your samples to suit. Samples not making one extraction day will be carried over to the next extraction day.

2. Documentation

Sample identification. All samples must be accompanied with a copy of the Submission Form you have filled in and emailed to the lab (available for download above) to identify each individual sample, identify the material and also give the full name and contact address of the submitter, with telephone and fax numbers and email address, if possible.

Treatment history. Details of any prior treatment of the sample, such as cleaning, drying, treatment with solvents or preservatives should also be supplied.

MPI Import Permit IMPORTANT!! Samples sent from outside New Zealand must be accompanied by a copy of the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries Import Permit

  • Failure to do this may result in your samples being delayed on entry into New Zealand. Do not send your samples without the Permit.
  • Inclusion of the MPI Import Permit with the sample documentation and writing the permit number on the outside of the package is all that is required.

3. Sample Types and Sizes

Please refer to Prices and Analytical methods to see minimum sample size requirements for each isotope.


Please contact us to ensure your samples are in a suitable format for processing.

Send dry samples, where possible. Bacterial activity in wet samples can affect the isotopic signature. Samples should be dried in a low temperature oven, up to 50°C. A freeze drier is available on site if required for sample concentration or drying of heat sensitive material.

Send samples in small, labelled vials. We are happy to return any unused portions after analyses if required, at your cost.

For ground rock samples send dry, finely ground (<200µm) homogeneous samples, ready for processing . The laboratory also offers a rock crushing and grinding service for a fee.

Organic samples can be ground with a mortar and pestle, or a ball mill. Homogeneity of vegetation and tissue samples can usually be improved by a small addition of liquid nitrogen during the grinding process.

Carbonate samples such as sediments should be sent milled (between 125-250 mesh) in small labelled vials. Foraminifera samples should be picked, cleaned and sent in suitable microvials. All calcite samples are vacuum roasted at 375°C for one hour. It is important to advise the lab if samples are not pure calcite. Contact us for cleaning procedure if uncertain.


Pre-evacuated gas flasks .We are able to provide a limited amount of pre-evacuated gas flasks for the collection of most types of gases. Please contact us to enquire about availability. We are also able to transfer sealed glass tubes into our gas sample bottles.


Resealable, leak-proof. All liquid samples must be sent in resealable leak-proof screw topped bottles.

Protective box. It is preferable to ensure they are well packed in a protective box. Our laboratory staff check all samples closely on arrival for any evidence of leaking and will advise immediately.

Toxic or corrosive. Indicate if any samples are likely to be toxic or corrosive so appropriate precautions can be taken.

For D/H or 18O analyses of liquid samples, we require 5ml of sample.

For 13C of liquids such as orange juice, or hydrocarbons, a minimum of 10ml is required to ensure we have a homogeneous and representative sample and that sufficient sample is available for duplication of the analyses.

For honey C4 sugar testing we require 50g of a homogeneous and representative sample of the batch being tested packaged in a screw top plastic jar.

For 15N, sample amounts vary depending on nitrogen concentration in the water sample, please contact us for further information.

For other liquids, please contact us for sample requirements.

4. Reporting times

Results are usually reported within four to six weeks of receipt of sample. All requested isotopes measured are presented in a report format, with information of international standards run with the samples.

Reporting time may be longer if large batches of samples are submitted or if the nature of the material is such that special processing methods are required. We may be able to process urgent samples within several days at a priority rate, subject to current laboratory workloads. Contact us if your analysis is urgent.