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Advancing Elemental and Isotopic Analysis of Uranium Mineral Inclusions: Rapid Screening via Laser-Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy and High-Resolution Laser Ablation-ICP-MS Mapping

Publication Type
Journal Name
Microchemical Journal
Publication Date
Page Numbers
109605 to 109605

The work presented herein employs two laser-based analytical techniques (laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) and laser ablation – inductively coupled plasma – mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS)) to spatially determine the elemental and isotopic composition of uranium bearing minerals. Uniquely, this work leverages the high-speed applicability of LIBS to “screen” the sample(s) for their elemental constituents. After determining the location of the uranium inclusions (via LIBS), high-resolution LA-ICP-MS was employed to further characterize the inclusions. The high-resolution (sub-µm) capabilities of LA-ICP-MS were able to extract important information from the uranium minerals including discerning its chemical form (e.g., finchite from carnotite, Sr- and K-bearing uranyl vanadates, respectively) as well as their 235U/238U isotopic composition. This approach, LIBS followed by LA-ICP-MS, significantly reduces the analysis time (∼95 %) in comparison to employing a LA-ICP-MS only approach. Furthermore, this work presented a novel approach to analyzing inclusions via a particle/inclusion analysis tool which is commercially available within the iolite 4 software. This tool allowed for a more accurate characterization of the isotopic distribution of the inclusions, as well as allowing for rapid sizing of the inclusions. This analytical approach could readily be applied to other sample types in which the target species (e.g., µm-sized inclusions) are embedded in complex matrices (e.g., cm-sized samples).