Application of a Handheld X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometer for Real-Time, High-Density Quantitative Analysis of Drilled Igneous Rocks and Sediments During IODP Expedition 352

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Portable XRF, Chemostratigraphy, IODP Expedition 352, ICP-OES, Rock surface analysis, Boninite, Basalt, Core analysis


Handheld energy dispersive portable X-ray spectrometers (pXRF) are generally designed and used for qualitative survey applications. We developed shipboard quantitative analysis protocols for pXRF and employed the instrument to make over 2000 individual abundance measurements for a selection of major and trace elements on over 1200 m of recovered core during the eight weeks of the International Ocean Discovery Program (IODP) Expedition 352 to the Izu-Bonin forearc. pXRF analytical performance, accuracy and precision were found to be the same on powdered rock samples and on freshly cut rock surfaces, and sample results were similar within error to measurements made via shipboard ICP-OES analysis save at low abundance levels for a few elements. Instrument performance was optimal for elements between Z = 19 and Z = 40, and the system yielded reproducible data for K, Ca, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Cu, Zn, Rb, Sr, and Zr on both powdered samples and rock surfaces. Working curves developed via pXRF measurement of a suite of geologic standard reference materials and well-characterized lavas permitted accurate quantitative measurements for many of the examined elements on both sample powders and rock surfaces. Although pXRF has been sporadically employed on previous cruises, Expedition 352 is the first time a detailed, high-density chemostratigraphy of recovered core samples was collected using pXRF measurements of rock core surfaces. These high-resolution data allowed the recognition of chemically distinct eruptive units in near real-time. The rapid identification of geochemical trends vastly improved our selection of samples for shipboard and shore-based analysis, permitted a more comprehensive interpretation of our Expedition results, and provided key decision-making information for drilling operations.

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Chemical Geology, v. 451, p. 55-66