Instrumental mass fractionation during sulfur isotope analysis by secondary ion mass spectrometry in natural and synthetic glasses

Zoltán Taracsák, David Neave, P. Beaudry, J. Gunnarsson-Robin, Raymond Burgess, M. Edmonds, S. A. Halldórsson, M.-A. Longpré, S. Ono, E. Ranta, A. Stefánsson, A. V. Turchyn, Margaret Hartley

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Sulfur isotope ratios are among the most commonly studied isotope systems in geochemistry. While sulfur isotope ratio analyses of materials such as bulk rock samples, gases, and sulfide grains are routinely carried out, in-situ analyses of silicate glasses such as those formed in magmatic systems are relatively scarce in the literature. Despite a number of attempts in recent years to analyse sulfur isotope ratios in volcanic and experimental glasses by secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), the effects of instrumental mass fractionation (IMF) during analysis remain poorly understood. In this study we use more than 600 sulfur isotope analyses of nine different glasses to characterise the matrix effects that arise during sulfur isotope analysis of glasses by SIMS. Samples were characterised for major element composition, sulfur content, and sulfur isotope ratios by independent methods. Our glasses contain between 500 and 3400 ppm sulfur and cover a wide compositional range, including low-silica basanite, rhyolite, and phonolite, allowing us to investigate composition-dependent IMF. We use SIMS in multi-collection mode with a Faraday cup/electron multiplier detector configuration to achieve uncertainty of 0.3h to 2h (2σ) on measured δ34S. At high sulfur content, the analytical error of our SIMS analyses is similar to that of bulk analytical methods, such as gas-source isotope ratio mass spectrometry. We find IMF causes an offset of -12h to +1h between bulk sulfur isotope ratios and those measured by SIMS. Instrumental mass fractionation correlates non-linearly with glass sulfur contents and with a multivariate regression model combining glass Al, Na, and K contents. Both ln(S) and Al-Na-K models are capable of predicting IMF with good accuracy: 84% (ln(S)) and 87% (Al-Na-K) of our analyses can be reproduced within 2σ combined analytical uncertainty after a correction for composition-dependent IMF is applied. The process driving IMF is challenging to identify. The non-linear correlation between glass S content and IMF in our dataset resembles previously documented correlation between glass H2O abundance and IMF during D/H ratio analyses by SIMS, and could be attributed to changes in 32S- and 34S- ion yields with changing S content and glass composition. However, a clear correlation between S ion yields and S content cannot be identified in our dataset. We speculate that accumulation of alkalis at the SIMS crater floor may be the principal driving force of composition dependent IMF. Nonetheless, other currently unknown factors could also influence IMF observed during S isotope ratio analyses of glasses by SIMS. Our results demonstrate that the use of multiple, well-characterised standards with a wide compositional range is required to calibrate SIMS instruments prior to sulfur isotope analyses of unknown silicate glasses. Matrix effects related to glass Al-Na-K contents are of particular importance for felsic systems, where alkali and aluminium contents can vary considerably more than in mafic magmas.
Original languageEnglish
Article number120318
JournalChemical Geology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2021


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