Abstract: In ion microprobe analysis the specimen is bombarded with a focussed ion beam a few µm in diameter and the secondary ions produced are accelerated into the entrance slit of a mass spectrometer. An outline of the salient features of the instrument is given here, together with an account of the methods used for quantitative elemental and isotopic analysis.
The major part of this paper consists of a comprehensive account of the geological applications of ion microprobe analysis. These include elemental analysis, especially for trace elements (down to sub-ppm levels in many cases) and light elements (H-F) which are beyond the scope of the electron microprobe. The other main area of geological interest is isotopic analysis, where the ion microprobe has the advantage over conventional mass spectrometry of being capable of in situ analysis of selected points on polished sections, obviating the need for laborious specimen preparation, and enabling spatially-resolved data to be obtained, with a resolution of a few µm. The ion microprobe has been especially successful in U-Pb zircon dating and the study of isotope anomalies in meteorites. Other significant applications include diffusion and stable isotope studies.