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Evaluation of Optimized Procedures for High-Precision Lead Isotope Analyses of Seawater by Multiple Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry

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journal contribution
posted on 10.08.2020, 16:05 by Alex Griffiths, Hollie Packman, Yee-Lap Leung, Barry J. Coles, Katharina Kreissig, Susan H. Little, Tina van de Flierdt, Mark Rehkämper
The application of Pb isotopes to marine geochemistry is currently hindered by challenges associated with the analysis of Pb isotopes in seawater. The current study evaluates the performance of multiple collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICP-MS) measurements of seawater Pb isotope compositions following Pb separation by either solid-phase extraction with Nobias Chelate PA-1 resin or coprecipitation with Mg­(OH)2 and using either a Pb double spike or external normalization to Tl for mass bias correction. The four analytical combinations achieve results of similar quality when measuring 1–7 ng of seawater Pb, with reproducibilities (two standard deviations, 2SD) of 100–1200 ppm for 206Pb/207Pb and 208Pb/207Pb and 300–1700 ppm for ratios involving the minor 204Pb isotope. All four procedures enable significantly improved sample throughput compared to an established thermal ionization mass spectrometry (TIMS) double-spike method and produce unbiased seawater Pb isotope compositions with similar or improved precision. Nobias extraction is preferable to coprecipitation due to its greater analytical throughput and suitability for analyses of large seawater samples with high Si­(OH)4 contents. The most accurate Pb isotope data are produced following Nobias extraction and double-spike correction as such analyses are least susceptible to matrix effects. However, Nobias extraction with Tl normalization constitutes an attractive alternative as, unlike the double-spike procedure, only a single mass spectrometric measurement is required, which improves analytical throughput and optimizes Pb consumption for analysis. Despite the advantages of solid-phase extraction, coprecipitation represents a useful Pb separation technique for samples with low to moderate Si contents as it is inexpensive, simple to implement, and the data are only marginally less accurate, especially when combined with a Pb double spike for mass bias correction.