Sr-isotope analysis of speleothems by LA-MC-ICP-MS: High temporal resolution and fast data acquisition

Michael Weber, Jasper A. Wassenburg, Klaus Peter Jochum, Sebastian Breitenbach, Jessica Oster, Denis Scholz

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Speleothems are well established climate archives. A wide array of geochemical proxies, including stable isotopes and trace elements are present within speleothems to reconstruct past climate variability. However, each proxy is influenced by multiple factors, often hampering robust interpretation. Sr isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr) can provide useful information about water residence time and water mixing in the host rock, as they are not fractionated during calcite precipitation. Laser ablation multi-collector-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS) has rarely been used for determination of Sr isotope signatures in speleothems, as speleothems often do not possess appropriately high concentrations of Sr to facilitate this analysis. Yet the advantages of this approach include rapid data acquisition, higher spatial resolution, larger sample throughput and the absence of chemical treatment prior to analysis. We present LA-MC-ICP-MS Sr isotope data from two speleothems from Morocco (Grotte de Piste) and India (Mawmluh Cave), and we compare linescan and spot analysis ablation techniques along speleothem growth axes. The analytical uncertainty of our LA-MC-ICP-MS Sr data is comparable to studies conducted on other carbonate materials. The results of both ablation techniques are reproducible within analytical error, implying that this technique yields robust results when applied to speleothems. In addition, several comparative measurements of different carbonate reference materials (i.e. MACS-3, JCt-1, JCp-1), including tests with standard bracketing and comparison of the 87Sr/86Sr ratios with a nanosecond laser ablation system and a state-of-the-art femtosecond laser ablation system, highlight the robustness of the method.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63-74
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Geology
Early online date12 Aug 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2017
Externally publishedYes


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