Applied Physics A

, Volume 111, Issue 1, pp 23-29

First online:

Pb distribution in bones from the Franklin expedition: synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and laser ablation/mass spectroscopy

  • Ronald Richard MartinAffiliated withThe University of Western Ontario Email author 
  • , Steven NaftelAffiliated withThe University of Western Ontario
  • , Sheila MacfieAffiliated withThe University of Western Ontario
  • , Keith JonesAffiliated withThe University of Western Ontario
  • , Andrew NelsonAffiliated withThe University of Western Ontario

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Synchrotron micro-X-ray Fluorescence has been used to map the metal distribution in selected bone fragments representative of remains associated with the Franklin expedition. In addition, laser ablation mass spectroscopy using a 25 μm diameter circular spot was employed to compare the Pb isotope distributions in small regions within the bone fragments. The X-ray Fluorescence mapping shows Pb to be widely distributed in the bone while the Pb isotope ratios obtained by laser ablation within small areas representative of bone with different Pb exchange rates do not show statistically significant differences. These results are inconsistent with the hypothesis that faulty solder seals in tinned meat were the principle source of Pb in the remains of the expedition personnel.