Single-Shot Laser Ablation Split-Stream (SS-LASS) Analysis Depth Profiling
Friday, 19 December 2014: 4:15 PM
Laser ablation depth profiling of geochronometers—such as zircon, monazite, titanite and rutile—has become popular in recent years as a tool to both determine date vs. depth or trace-element (TE) composition vs. depth; the former allows the dating of thin rims and, potentially, inversion of Pb-loss profiles for thermal histories, whereas the latter can yield insight into changes in PTX or mineral parageneses and inversion of trace-element profiles for thermal histories. In this study, we combine both techniques, enabling simultaneous acquisition of U-Th/Pb isotopic ratios and trace-element compositions, by joining a 193 nm excimer laser to a multi-collector ICP-MS and single-collector ICP-MS. The simultaneous acquisition allows direct shot-by-shot linkage between time and petrology, expanding our ability to understand the evolution of complex geologic systems. We construct each depth profile by capturing the analyte with a succession of individual laser pulses (each ~100 nm deep) . This has two main advantages over a typical time-dependent analysis of a multi-shot routine composed of tens to hundreds of shots and a several µm deep hole. 1) The reference material is analyzed between each shot for a more-accurate standardization of each aliquot of ablated material. 2) There is no mixing of material ablated from successive laser pulses during transmission to the ICP. The method is limited by count rate, which depends on spot size, excavation rate, instrument sensitivity, etc., and, for single-collector ICP, the switching time, which limits the number of elements that can be analyzed and their total counts. We explore the latter theoretically and experimentally to provide insight on both the ideal number of elements to measure and the dwell time in any given sample. Examples of the utility of SS-LASS include the comparison of apparent Pb loss to diffusion profiles of trace elements in rims of metamorphic rutile and titanite, as well as the determination of the timing and petrologic conditions of thin zircon rims in metamorphic rocks.