Analyzing rapidly, precisely and semi-automatically lead isotopes on variable volumes of seawater (up to 1000 ml)

Zurbrick and co-authors present a relatively fast (2.5–6.5 hours), semi-automated system to extract lead (Pb) from seawater, with few chemicals yielding low blanks. They also demonstrate that subsequent Pb isotopic analyses are more precise using a multi-collector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) than high resolution ICP-MS (HR ICP-MS).

With the preceding work of Conway and co-workers (Conway et al., 2013) demonstrating similar analytical performances for iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and cadmium (Cd), the ability of GEOTRACES community to determine key isotopes in seawater is clearly improving.

13 Zurbrick

Figure: A diagram representing the offline Pb extraction apparatus; sample Pb is loaded on a column, which is subsequently flushed with column wash to reduce salts followed by elution of Pb for analysis. Click here to view the figure larger.



Zurbrick, C. M., Gallon, C., & Flegal, A. R. (2013). A new method for stable lead isotope extraction from seawater. Analytica Chimica Acta, 800, 29–35. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2013.09.002. Click here to access the paper.

Conway, T. M., Rosenberg, A. D., Adkins, J. F., & John, S. G. (2013). A new method for precise determination of iron, zinc and cadmium stable isotope ratios in seawater by double-spike mass spectrometry. Analytica Chimica Acta, 793, 44–52. DOI: 10.1016/j.aca.2013.07.025. Click here to access the paper.

Latest highlights

Science Highlights

Specific features characterize the dissolved iron distribution in the North Western Indian Ocean

Venkatesh Chinni and Sunil Kumar Singh propose dissolved iron profiles along two meridional transects realized during spring and fall seasons between the Arabian Sea and the sub-tropical western Indian Ocean…


Science Highlights

Anthropogenic aerosol has become a dominant source of zinc in the deep water of the Northern South China Sea

Liao and colleagues determined zinc concentrations and isotope compositions in sinking particles collected in the Northern South China Sea…


Science Highlights

An updated global ocean chromium biogeochemical cycle

Janssen and co-authors present an exhaustive compilation of ocean chromium data…

Science Highlights

Mercury stable isotopes constrain atmospheric pathways to the ocean

The study’s results hold promise that the implementation of anti-pollution measures under the Minamata Convention will likely result in a faster decrease of oceanic mercury levels than previously thought.