Microchimica Acta

, Volume 165, Issue 1–2, pp 79–89 | Cite as

Time resolved sulphur and nutrient distribution in Norway spruce drill cores using ICP-OES

  • Andrea Ulrich
  • Timothée Barrelet
  • Renato Figi
  • Heinz Rennenberg
  • Urs Krähenbühl
Original Paper


Methods were developed for detailed dendrochemical studies of low sulphur contents in Norway spruce (Picea abies L. Karst.). This tree species is the dominant conifer species in Northern and Central Europe and therefore predestined for a possible use as an environmental archive. Two independent digestion procedures were investigated with respect to their suitability for element determination and optimised for analysis of the low sulphur content in wood. A modified oxygen bomb combustion procedure and a microwave acid digestion procedure were evaluated with the goal to obtain sufficient detection limits in order to access low concentrated non-metals with an appropriate time resolution. Method development included evaluation of strategies preventing losses of volatile sulphur species. Digestion efficiency was demonstrated by recovery rates for various certified plant standard reference materials (NIST 1572, NIST 1547, RM 8436, BCR 101, NIST 1515, RM 8436, NIST 1573, NIST 1575) as well as self prepared standards with defined low sulphur content of 20 to 200 mg kg−1, which are typical for Norway spruce wood samples. Ultra sonic nebulisation (USN) was evaluated with respect to signal enhancement for sample introduction to inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES). The optimised procedure was applied to Norway spruce drill cores from locations with different environmental conditions in Switzerland, in order to investigate the anthropogenic impact of sulphur and the suitability of Norway spruce as an environmental archive for sulphur.


Norway spruce Tree ring Sulphur Trace elements Oxygen bomb combustion Microwave digestion ICP-OES Plant certified reference material 

Supplementary material

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604_2008_101_MOESM2_ESM.doc (233 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Ulrich
    • 1
  • Timothée Barrelet
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
  • Renato Figi
    • 1
  • Heinz Rennenberg
    • 3
  • Urs Krähenbühl
    • 4
  1. 1.Analytical ChemistrySwiss Federal Institute for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)DübendorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH)BerneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institute of Forest Botany and Tree PhysiologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  4. 4.Department for Chemistry and BiochemistryUniversity of BerneBerneSwitzerland

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