Simultaneous determination of picogram per gram concentrations of Ba, Pb and Pb isotopes in Greenland ice by thermal ionisation mass spectrometry


A technique has been developed to simultaneously measure picogram per gram concentrations of Ba and Pb by isotope dilution mass spectrometry, as well as Pb isotopic ratios in polar ice by thermal ionisation mass spectrometry. \( {\text{BaPO}}^{ + }_{{\text{2}}} \) and Pb+ ions were employed for these determinations. A calibrated mixture of enriched 205Pb and 137Ba was added to the samples providing an accuracy of better than approximately 2% for Pb/Ba element ratio determinations. Interference by molecular ions in the Pb mass spectrum occurred only at 204Pb and 205Pb, but these contributions were negligible in terms of precisions expected on picogram-sized Pb samples. The technique is illustrated with measurements on Greenland firn, using a drill-core section that includes the Laki volcanic eruption of 1783–1784. The data show deviations from the element concentrations indicating volatile metal enrichments, but the Pb isotopic signature of the Laki lava could not be identified.

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We thank staff and students of Curtin University’s Isotope Science Research Laboratories who provided valuable discussion. We thank Dr Haukur Johannesson who provided the solidified lava from the Laki site. This laboratory is supported by research grants from the Australian Research Council and the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee. The collection and decontamination of the samples in Greenland was supported by the Commission of the European Communities and Switzerland, and the French Ministry of the Environment. We also thank three reviewers for helpful advice on improving the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Kevin J. R. Rosman.

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Jimi, S.I., Rosman, K.J.R., Hong, S. et al. Simultaneous determination of picogram per gram concentrations of Ba, Pb and Pb isotopes in Greenland ice by thermal ionisation mass spectrometry. Anal Bioanal Chem 390, 495–501 (2008).

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  • TIMS
  • Barium
  • Lead isotopes
  • Ice cores
  • Laki
  • Volcanoes