Correlation and characterisation of individual glass shards from tephra deposits using trace element laser ablation ICP-MS analyses: current status and future potential

John A. Westgate, Joanna S. Denton, William T. Perkins, Nicholas J. G. Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is a high spatial resolution analytical method which has been applied to the analysis of silicic tephras. With current instrumentation, around 30 trace elements can be determined from single glass shards as small as 40 µm, separated from tephra deposits. As a result of element fractionation during the ablation process using a 266 nm laser, a relatively complex calibration strategy is required. Nonetheless, such a strategy gives analyses which are accurate (typically within ±5%) and have an analytical precision which varies from ±2% at 100 ppm, to ±15% at 1 ppm. Detection limits for elements used in correlation and discrimination studies are well below 1 ppm. Examples of the application of trace element analysis by LA-ICP-MS in tephra studies are presented from the USA, New Zealand and the Mediterranean. Improvements in instrumental sensitivity in recent years have the potential to lower detection limits and improve analytical precision, thus allowing the analysis of smaller glass shards from more distal tephras. Laser systems operating at shorter wavelengths (e.g. 193 nm) are now more widely available, and produce a much more controllable ablation in glasses than 266 nm lasers. Crater sizes of
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)721-736
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Quaternary Science
Volume22
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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