Selenium isotope analysis by N-TIMS: Potential and challenges

Vollstaedt, Hauke; Mezger, Klaus; Leya, Ingo; Nägler, Thomas; Trinquier, Anne (2016). Selenium isotope analysis by N-TIMS: Potential and challenges. International journal of mass spectrometry, 401, pp. 55-63. Elsevier 10.1016/j.ijms.2016.02.016

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The isotope composition of selenium (Se) can provide important constraints on biological, geochemical, and cosmochemical processes taking place in different reservoirs on Earth and during planet formation. To provide precise qualitative and quantitative information on these processes, accurate and highly precise isotope data need to be obtained. The currently applied ICP-MS methods for Se isotope measurements are compromised by the necessity to perform a large number of interference corrections. Differences in these correction methods can lead to discrepancies in published Se isotope values of rock standards which are significantly higher than the acclaimed precision. An independent analytical approach applying a double spike (DS) and state-of-the-art TIMS may yield better precision due to its smaller number of interferences and could test the accuracy of data obtained by ICP-MS approaches. This study shows that the precision of Se isotope measurements performed with two different Thermo Scientific™ Triton™ Plus TIMS is distinctly deteriorated by about ±1‰ (2 s.d.) due to δ80/78Se by a memory Se signal of up to several millivolts and additional minor residual mass bias which could not be corrected for with the common isotope fractionation laws. This memory Se has a variable isotope composition with a DS fraction of up to 20% and accumulates with increasing number of measurements. Thus it represents an accumulation of Se from previous Se measurements with a potential addition from a sample or machine blank. Several cleaning techniques of the MS parts were tried to decrease the memory signal, but were not sufficient to perform precise Se isotope analysis. If these serious memory problems can be overcome in the future, the precision and accuracy of Se isotope analysis with TIMS should be significantly better than those of the current ICP-MS approaches.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences
08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Space Research and Planetary Sciences
10 Strategic Research Centers > Center for Space and Habitability (CSH)

UniBE Contributor:

Vollstaedt, Hauke, Mezger, Klaus, Leya, Ingo, Nägler, Frank Thomas


500 Science > 530 Physics
500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Danielle Zemp

Date Deposited:

26 Apr 2016 16:26

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 23:27

Publisher DOI:





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