Advances in the chemical and isotopic characterisation of geological and environmental materials can often be ascribed to technological improvements in analytical hardware. Equally, the creation of novel methods of data acquisition and interpretation, including access to better reference materials, can also be crucial components enabling important breakthroughs. This biennial review highlights key advances in either instrumentation or data acquisition and treatment, which have appeared since January 2010. This review is based on the assessments by scientists prominent in each of the given analytical fields; it is not intended as an exhaustive summary, but rather provides insight from experts of the most significant advances and trends in their given field of expertise. In contrast to earlier reviews, this presentation has been formulated into a unified work, providing a single source covering a broad spectrum of geoanalytical techniques. Additionally, some themes that were not previously emphasised, in particular thermal ionisation mass spectrometry, accelerator-based methods and vibrational spectroscopy, are also presented in detail.