Precise determination of seawater calcium using isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry
We describe a method for rapid, precise and accurate determination of calcium ion (Ca2+) concentration in seawater using isotope dilution inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ID-ICP-MS). A 10 μL aliquot of seawater was spiked with an appropriate 43Ca enriched solution for 44Ca/43Ca ID-ICP-MS analyses, using an Element XR (Thermo Fisher Scientific), operated at low resolution in E-scan acquisition mode. A standard–sample bracketing technique was applied to correct for potential mass discrimination and ratio drift at every 5 samples. A precision of better than 0.05% for within-run and 0.10% for duplicate measurements of the IAPSO seawater standard was achieved using 10 μL solutions with a measuring time less than 3 minutes. Depth profiles of seawater samples collected from the Arctic Ocean basin were processed and compared with results obtained by the classic ethylene glycol tetra-acetic acid (EGTA) titration. Our new ID-ICP-MS data agreed closely with the conventional EGTA data, with the latter consistently displaying 1.5% excess Ca2+ values, possibly due to a contribution of interference from Mg2+ and Sr2+ in the EGTA titration. The newly obtained Sr/Ca profiles reveal sensitive water mass mixing in the upper oceanic column to reflect ice melting in the Arctic region. This novel technique provides a tool for seawater Ca2+ determination with small sample size, high throughput, excellent internal precision and external reproducibility.