Re-evaluating digestion methods for highly siderophile element and 187Os isotope analysis: Evidence from geological reference materials

Akira Ishikawa, Ryoko Senda, Katsuhiko Suzuki, Christopher W. Dale, Thomas Meisel

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108 Citations (Scopus)


Here we evaluate measurement procedures currently used for the combined determination of highly siderophile element concentrations (HSEs: Re, Ir, Os, Ru, Pt and Pd) and Os isotope ratios in geological samples by isotope dilution mass spectrometry (ID-MS) applying high-temperature sample digestion using inverse aqua regia in closed glass vessels, such as Carius tubes or a high-pressure asher system (HPA). In particular, we address the question of whether an additional hydrofluoric acid dissolution step is required to release HSEs hosted in the silicate portions of rock samples. To do so, we conducted systematic experiments for basaltic (TDB-1 and BIR-1), ultramafic (UB-N and JP-1) and sedimentary (SCo-1, SDO-1 and JCh-1) reference materials with and without HF desilicification. Through the extensive tests on TDB-1-varying apparatus (microwave, Carius tube, high-pressure asher), conditions (temperature, duration, sample size) and protocol (HF desilicification before or after aqua regia attack)-we find the optimum digestion method is to use inverse aqua regia for digesting 1-2g of powder over long durations, such as Carius tubes heated to 240 °C for 72h, followed by an HF desilicification step after CCl4 solvent extraction of Os. For basaltic reference materials, the method provides significantly improved HSE recoveries-particularly Ru-largely due to the use of HF. Strong linear correlations between Os and Ir-Ru-Pt concentrations and isochronous behavior on a 187Re/188Os vs. 187Os/188Os diagram (1240±59Ma, MSWD=1.4) are observed for repeat dissolutions of TDB-1, reflecting sample heterogeneity due to minor minerals enriched in Os, Ir, Ru and Pt-most likely sulphides. In comparison, excellent reproducibilities were obtained for BIR-1: relative standard deviations (RSDs) for 1-2g aliquots were 6.9% Os, 5.1% Ir, 2.0% Ru, 5.1% Pt, 1.5% Pd and 0.7% Re (n=9). Thus, BIR-1 might be a useful candidate reference material for obtaining certified values with small measurement uncertainties. Unlike the basaltic reference materials, extraction of HSEs from ultramafic and sedimentary reference materials is largely independent of the use of HF. The data obtained by Carius tube for UB-N and JP-1 agree well with the literature data obtained using apparently more aggressive digestion techniques. The precision of our data for 0.5-2g aliquots of the sedimentary reference materials also compares favourably with limited data available in the literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-46
Number of pages20
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - Sept 25 2014
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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