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Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom. 2007;21(11):1783-90.

Deuterium and oxygen-18 determination of microliter quantities of a water sample using an automated equilibrator.

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Research Organization of Information and Systems, National Institute of Polar Research, Itabashi, Tokyo 173-8515, Japan.


We describe a modified version of the equilibration method and a correction algorithm for isotope ratio measurements of small quantities of water samples. The deltaD and the delta(18)O of the same water sample can both be analyzed using an automated equilibrator with sample sizes as small as 50 microL. Conventional equilibration techniques generally require water samples of several microL. That limitation is attributable mainly to changes in the isotope ratio ((18)O/(16)O or D/H) of water samples during isotopic exchange between the equilibration gas (CO(2) or H(2)) and water, and therefore the technique for microL quantities of water requires mass-balance correction using the water/gas (CO(2) or H(2)) mole ratio to correct this isotopic effect. We quantitatively evaluate factors controlling the variability of the isotopic effect due to sample size. Theoretical consideration shows that a simple linear equation corrects for the effects without determining parameters such as isotope fractionation factors and water/gas mole ratios. Precisions (1-sigma) of 50-microL meteoric water samples whose isotopic compositions of -1.4 to -396.2 per thousand for deltaD are +/-0.5 to +/-0.6 per thousand, and of -0.37 to -51.37 per thousand for delta(18)O are +/-0.01 to +/-0.11 per thousand.


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