Saturday, July 01, 2006

Hafnium is for lovers

Geologists who are passionate about their analytical methods will have a hard time passing up the laser-MC-ICP-MS method of hafnium isotopic analysis in zircon. All too often, geochemistry is a struggle against the inexorable drag of entropy, as columns and calibrated solutions strain to withstand the natural inclinations of the elements they seek to constrain.

Not so with Hf-La-MC-ICP-MS. The natural inclination of zircon melds perfectly with the strengths of the machine. The embrace of distribution co-efficients and analytical processes is so picturesque that the raw data from a Monastery zircon can agree with that of the most popular pulp journals to within one digit in the fifth decimal place.

Even without accommodation for aging amplifiers or the crass interference of the heavy rare-earth elements, this conjoining of HFSE enrichment and pervasive ionic excitation allows transcendent analyses of this highly evolved phase. Primitive mantle petrologists are positively molten with jealousy at the ease of working with such a refined, but compositionally dependent mineral. If only all mass spectrometry was as satisfying.

No comments: