Lead Isotope Analysis – Sample Types and Selection

The lead isotopic ratios (e.g. 206Pb/204Pb, 207Pb/204Pb, 208Pb/204Pb) can be measured in various sample types such as igneous and metamorphic rocks, mineral dust, marine and lacustrine sediments, bones, tooth enamel, soil, and others.

Our sample size recommendations are general guidelines. Individual sample size requirements depend on the material type and Pb concentration in the sample. If you measured the Pb concentration in your samples, email us the information PRIOR to submittal so we can give you a better estimate of the required sample size for your material.

Reminders:

DO NOT wrap samples in aluminum or any metal foil. Use weighing paper if you need to wrap them.

Submit samples in a ziplock bag or teflon container with PRINTED SAMPLE ID attached outside the bag.

Always choose the best samples for your research objectives

Our recommended sample sizes assume the material is dry and free of adhering matrix.

Please tap/click on a row to view the sample preparation instructions for each material.

Material Type Sample Size Recommended Container Other Isobar Services Available
Bone (ashed) 200 mg
  • Vials (preferably with screw tops)
  • microcentrifuge tubes, or
  • counting slides
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
Sr Isotope Analysis +
All bone samples (cremated, intact) must be homogenized and ashed prior to submittal. For the best results, make sure your samples are clean and free from soil, clay particles, calcite and other detritus.

Ash samples in a quartz crucible at 850°C for 3 hours and transfer the residues into clean small glass or plastic vials. Samples will be digested in 8 M nitric acid (lower concentrations may be used if the sample contains clay and detritus). A larger sample size is required if we need to ash the samples.
Igneous Rocks 50 mg
  • Plastic or glass vials
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
Sr Isotope Analysis
Sr-Nd-Hf Isotopic Ratios
+
Rock samples need to be homogenized prior to submittal. For effective sample dissolution, high-temperature flux fusion is the method of choice. Homogenized samples will be fused at 1075°C with high-purity lithium metaborate (LiBO2, Puratronic) and ultra-pure grade lithium bromide to ensure complete recovery of the melt. The melt is directly digested in 6 M nitric acid.
Marine and lacustrine sediments 50 mg
  • Plastic or glass vials
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
Sr-Nd-Hf Isotopic Ratios +
All organics must be removed from the sample either by ashing or with hydrogen peroxide. All carbonate fractions must be removed if you wish to measure Pb isotopes only on siliciclastic fraction.

A larger sample size is required if we need to remove the carbonates and organics from the samples.

For effective sample dissolution, high-temperature flux fusion is the method of choice. Sediment samples will be fused at 1075°C with high-purity lithium metaborate (LiBO2, Puratronic) and ultra-pure grade lithium bromide to ensure complete recovery of the melt. The melt is directly digested in 6 M nitric acid.
Metal Artifacts and coins 20 mg
  • Plastic or glass vials
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
None at this time +
For the best results, make sure your samples are clean and free from soil, clay particles, calcite and other detritus. Samples will be digested in 8 M nitric acid (higher concentrations may be used if need be).
Mineral Dust (ashed) 30-50 mg
  • Vials (preferably with screw tops)
  • microcentrifuge tubes, or
  • counting slides
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
Sr Isotope Analysis
Sr-Nd-Hf Isotopic Ratios
+
Aerosol samples collected on filter paper must be ashed entirely prior to submittal. All organics must be removed from the sample either by ashing or with hydrogen peroxide. All carbonate fractions must be removed if you wish to measure Pb isotopes only on siliciclastic fraction.

A larger sample size is required if we need to remove the carbonates and organics or ash the samples.

For effective sample dissolution, high-temperature flux fusion is the method of choice. Aerosol samples will be fused at 1075°C with high-purity lithium metaborate (LiBO2, Puratronic) and ultra-pure grade lithium bromide to ensure complete recovery of the melt. The melt is directly digested in 6 M nitric acid.
Soil (ashed) 50 mg
  • Plastic or glass vials
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
None at this time +
All organics must be removed from the sample either by ashing or with hydrogen peroxide. Soil samples need to be homogenized prior to submittal.

For effective sample dissolution, high-temperature flux fusion is the method of choice. Homogenized samples will be fused at 1075°C with high-purity lithium metaborate (LiBO2, Puratronic) and ultra-pure grade lithium bromide to ensure complete recovery of the melt. The melt is directly digested in 6 M nitric acid.
Tooth enamel 100 mg
  • Vials (preferably with screw tops)
  • microcentrifuge tubes, or
  • counting slides
    Put them inside a labeled Ziplock bag.
Strontium Isotope Analysis +
To remove non-biogenic Pb from enamel or bone, samples will be sequentially treated by 0.1 N acetic acid.

Please contact the lab if you want to follow different protocols or you prefer to skip this stage.
Water 125 mL
  • Small-neck plastic bottle (HDPE, LDPE, PP)

    DO NOT use glass vials.
Boron Isotopes
Sr Isotope Analysis
+
Use any type of small-neck plastic bottle (HDPE, LDPE, PP) to collect your sample. Rinse the bottle with the running sample water prior to collection. Do not add any chemicals to the water, do not acidify the water. Fill the bottle all the way to the top, you may leave a small space at the top (keep the neck of the bottle empty) to allow for any necessary expansion during shipment.

Please put the bottles inside a plastic bag and seal the bag with a zip-tie or duct tape. Clearly label both bottle and the plastic bag.

Please consult the lab before submitting samples.