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Determination of Sr isotopes in calcium phosphates using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and their application to archaeological tooth enamel

Horstwood, Matthew; Evans, Jane; Montgomery, J.. 2008 Determination of Sr isotopes in calcium phosphates using laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry and their application to archaeological tooth enamel. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 72 (23). 5659-5674. 10.1016/j.gca.2008.08.016

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Abstract/Summary

The determination of accurate Sr isotope ratios in calcium phosphate matrices by laser ablation multi-collector ICP-MS is demonstrated as possible even with low Sr concentration archaeological material. Multiple on-line interference correction routines for doubly-charged REE, Ca dimers and Rb with additional calibration against TIMS-characterised materials are required to achieve this. The calibration strategy proposed uses both inorganic and biogenic apatite matrices to monitor and correct for a 40Ca–31P–16O polyatomic present at levels of 0.3–1% of the non-oxide peak, which interferes on 87Sr causing inaccuracies of 0.03–0.4% in the 87Sr/86Sr isotope ratio. The possibility also exists for synthetic materials to be used in this calibration. After correction for interferences total combined uncertainties of 0.04–0.15% (2SD) are achieved for analyses of 13–24 μg of archaeological tooth enamel with Sr concentrations of ca. 100–500 ppm using MC-ICP-MS. In particular, for samples containing >300 ppm Sr, total uncertainties of 0.05% are possible utilising 7–12 ng Sr. Data quality is monitored by determination of 84Sr/86Sr ratios. When applied to an archaeological cattle tooth this approach shows Sr-isotope variations along the length of the tooth in agreement with independent TIMS data. The 40Ca–31P–16O polyatomic interference is the root cause of the bias at mass 87 during laser ablation ICP-MS analysis of inorganic and biogenic calcium phosphate (apatite) matrices. This results in inaccurate 87Sr/86Sr ratios even after correction of Ca dimers and doubly charged rare earth elements. This interference is essentially constant at specific ablation conditions and therefore the effect on 87Sr/86Sr data varies in proportion to changes in the Sr concentration of the ablated material. Complete elimination of this interference is unlikely through normal analytical mechanisms and therefore represents a limitation on the achievable accuracy of LA-(MC-)ICP-MS 87Sr/86Sr data without rigorous calibration to known reference materials.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1016/j.gca.2008.08.016
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2008 > NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory
ISSN: 0016-7037
Additional Keywords: Archaeology, Isotopic dating, Lasers
NORA Subject Terms: Earth Sciences
Date made live: 20 Jan 2009 16:05
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/5730

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