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Issue 1, 2012
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Calcium isotope measurement by combined HR-MC-ICPMS and TIMS

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We report a novel approach for the chemical purification of Ca from silicate rocks by ion-exchange chromatography, and a highly-precise method for the isotopic analysis of Ca—including the smallest isotope 46Ca (0.003%)—by high-resolution multiple collector inductively coupled plasma source mass spectrometry (HR-MC-ICPMS), in combination with thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS). Using this approach, we measured the Ca isotope composition of a number of terrestrial rock standards and seawater. Based on these data, we show that the non-mass-dependent abundances of μ43Ca, μ46Ca, and μ48Ca (normalized to 42Ca/44Ca) can be measured with an external reproducibility of 1.8, 45 and 12.5 ppm, respectively, when measured by HR-MC-ICPMS and μ40Ca and μ43Ca to 80 and 23 ppm, respectively, when measured by TIMS (μ notation is the per 106 deviation from the reference material). Comparison with earlier studies demonstrate that it is possible to measure the mass-dependent Ca isotope composition of terrestrial materials using HR-MC-ICPMS with an external reproducibility comparable to that typically obtained with double spike TIMS techniques. The resolution of the mass-independent 43Ca, 46Ca and 48Ca data obtained by HR-MC-ICPMS represents more than a 45-, 120-, and 18-fold improvement, respectively, relative to earlier measurements obtained by TIMS. This improvement allows for a better understanding of the mass fractionation laws responsible for the mass-dependent fractionation of Ca present in natural samples and synthetic standards. For example, the presence of an apparent excess of ∼60 ppm in the μ48Ca composition of the SRM 915a suggests that equilibrium fractionation processes have generated the mass-dependent fractionation of this material. In contrast, the absence of residual anomalies in the mass-independent composition of seawater implies that biogenic and inorganic processes of carbonate formation fractionate Ca kinetically from seawater. Finally, we note that SRM 915b has a mass-dependent and mass-independent Ca isotope composition that is within the resolution of our method identical to that of bulk silicate Earth (BSE). This observation, together with the potential heterogeneity in the 40Ca composition of the SRM 915a inferred from our measurements, suggests that the SRM 915b is a better reference material to study the Ca isotope composition of terrestrial and non-terrestrial materials.

Graphical abstract: Calcium isotope measurement by combined HR-MC-ICPMS and TIMS

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Publication details

The article was received on 12 Sep 2011, accepted on 20 Oct 2011 and first published on 16 Nov 2011

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C1JA10272A
J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2012,27, 38-49

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    Calcium isotope measurement by combined HR-MC-ICPMS and TIMS

    M. Schiller, C. Paton and M. Bizzarro, J. Anal. At. Spectrom., 2012, 27, 38
    DOI: 10.1039/C1JA10272A

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