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Effects of H2O- and O2-containing He carrier gases on the 206Pb/238U system bias and down-hole fractionation in LA-ICPMS of zircon

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Abstract

This paper deals with the effects the addition of H2O or O2 to He aerosol carrier gas has on 206Pb/238U ratios during laser ablation inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICPMS) of natural zircon and synthetic silicate glass. The following parameters were studied: (i) system bias defined as constant but LA-ICPMS system-dependent shifts in 206Pb/238U ratios, (ii) down-hole fractionation given by the slope of the 206Pb/238U ratio vs. LA time, and (iii) the sum of (i) and (ii) referred to as the overall elemental fractionation. To isolate and study changes of 206Pb/238U ratios arising independently from either LA sampling or ICPMS analysis of the generated aerosols, a diffusion-based gas exchange device was used. The supply of He + O2 caused relative changes in mean 206Pb/238U values and temporal gradients due to the LA process of less than 40%. By contrast, addition of H2O to the He carrier gas changed 206Pb/238U ratios by up to 150% through processes occurring during LA as well as ICPMS analysis. Here, the opposing temporal gradients of 206Pb/238U ratios canceled out at relative humidity levels close to the saturation vapor pressure under ambient lab conditions, i.e., 20 °C room temperature. As a consequence, changes in 206Pb/238U ratios caused by down-hole fractionation could be suppressed. However, the admixture of H2O also affected the system bias at the same time, resulting in increased offsets in 206Pb/238U ratios such that the accuracy of LA-ICPMS analyses worsened by up to 6% when applied to the age determination of zircon. Neither worsening nor significant improvements in the accuracy of 206Pb/238U ages were observed in the case of LA-ICPMS using He + O2 carrier gas mixtures.

Graphical abstract: Effects of H2O- and O2-containing He carrier gases on the 206Pb/238U system bias and down-hole fractionation in LA-ICPMS of zircon

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 Jan 2017, accepted on 06 Sep 2017 and first published on 06 Sep 2017


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C7JA00017K
Citation: J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2017, Advance Article
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    Effects of H2O- and O2-containing He carrier gases on the 206Pb/238U system bias and down-hole fractionation in LA-ICPMS of zircon

    S. Allner, J. Koch, S. E. Jackson and D. Günther, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7JA00017K

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