We present a novel approach to creating compositional images using a module created for use with the freely distributed software package Iolite. The module creates images by synchronising the state of the laser (e.g., whether the laser is firing or not) and the position on the sample, which are recorded in laser log files, with concurrently collected mass spectrometer data. When these two data sources are synchronised, mass spectrometer data which are recorded temporally can then be displayed versus ablation position (i.e., spatially). Each mass spectrometer reading is then plotted as a circular spot representing the size of the area ablated. This approach has many advantages. CellSpace takes advantage of Iolite's ability to manipulate data from various mass spectrometers and to reduce data of different types. Laser ablation data can be plotted over other images, such as those produced by scanning electron microscopes, where the image has been transformed into cell coordinates using third party software. This allows the analyst to visualise laser ablation data in context and to correlate sample data from multiple sources and/or techniques. The code also has the advantage of averaging data spatially, rather than just temporally, and faithfully presents the data as a corresponding laser spot, rather than a simple rectangular pixel. Here we provide an example of a fish otolith, where trace element concentrations and Sr-isotopic compositions are overlain on microscope images, providing information on migration patterns that are applicable to population studies and fisheries conservation.
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