Ion Microprobe Determination of Rare Earth Elements in Accessory Minerals

S. J. B. Reed
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0EZ

Abstract: The application of ion microprobe analysis to REE determination is discussed, with special reference to REE-bearing accessory minerals (e.g. allanite, monazite, apatite, xenotime, sphene). The main analytical problems are shown to be (a) interferences in the mass spectrum caused by molecular ions, and (b) matrix effects, i.e. variations in ion yield with sample composition. Interference suppression using either high mass resolution or secondary-ion energy discrimination is fairly effective, but entails a significant sacrifice in peak intensity. In the absence of a viable model for predicting matrix effects, it is proposed that empirical standardization should be used. Often better absolute accuracy can be obtained by combining ion microprobe and electron microprobe data for REE present in sufficiently high concentrations. Detection limits for REE are in the part per million region at present, with spatial resolution typically around 10 μm, but there is considerable scope for improvement. Better standards and improved understanding of matrix effects should also lead to greater accuracy in quantitative analysis.

Keywords: ion microprobe • rare earth elements • allanite • apatite • sphene • chevkinite

Mineralogical Magazine; March 1986 v. 50; no. 355; p. 3-15; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1986.050.355.02
© 1986, The Mineralogical Society
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