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Mass Spectrom Rev. 2010 Sep-Oct;29(5):685-716. doi: 10.1002/mas.20244.

Calcium isotope analysis by mass spectrometry.

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1
Safeguards Analytical Laboratory, Department of Nuclear Sciences and Applications, International Atomic Energy Agency, Wagramer Strasse 5, 1400 Vienna, Austria. s.bulyha@iaea.org

Abstract

The variations in the isotopic composition of calcium caused by fractionation in heterogeneous systems and by nuclear reactions can provide insight into numerous biological, geological, and cosmic processes, and therefore isotopic analysis finds a wide spectrum of applications in cosmo- and geochemistry, paleoclimatic, nutritional, and biomedical studies. The measurement of calcium isotopic abundances in natural samples has challenged the analysts for more than three decades. Practically all Ca isotopes suffer from significant isobaric interferences, whereas low-abundant isotopes can be particularly affected by neighboring major isotopes. The extent of natural variations of stable isotopes appears to be relatively limited, and highly precise techniques are required to resolve isotopic effects. Isotope fractionation during sample preparation and measurements and instrumental mass bias can significantly exceed small isotope abundance variations in samples, which have to be investigated. Not surprisingly, a TIMS procedure developed by Russell et al. (Russell et al., 1978. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 42: 1075-1090) for Ca isotope measurements was considered as revolutionary for isotopic measurements in general, and that approach is used nowadays (with small modifications) for practically all isotopic systems and with different mass spectrometric techniques. Nevertheless, despite several decades of calcium research and corresponding development of mass spectrometers, the available precision and accuracy is still not always sufficient to achieve the challenging goals. The present article discusses figures of merits of presently used analytical methods and instrumentation, and attempts to critically assess their limitations. In Sections 2 and 3, mass spectrometric methods applied to precise stable isotope analysis and to the determination of (41)Ca are described. Section 4 contains a short summary of selected applications, and includes tracer experiments and the potential use of biological isotope fractionation in medical studies, paleoclimatic and paleoceanographic, and other terrestrial as well as extraterrestrial investigations.

PMID:
19551693
DOI:
10.1002/mas.20244
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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