Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

LA-ICP-MS depth profiling perspective on cleaning protocols for elemental analyses in planktic foraminifers



[1] Measurements of trace metal ratios in foraminiferal calcite are routinely used to reconstruct paleoceanographic conditions. Analyses using solution-based inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) require dissolution of the entire foraminifer shell. The potential exists for contamination from adherent clays, mineralized coatings, and other diagenetic components that confound the biogenic trace metal signal. We present results from a cleaning experiment on fossil specimens of the planktic foraminifer Orbulina universa that were cracked into several shell fragments and subjected to different cleaning protocols. We use laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS) depth profiling to evaluate the effects of reductive, oxidative, and chelating (diethylene-triamine pentaacetic acid) cleaning protocols on shell Mg/Ca and Ba/Ca ratios. Using the natural pattern of intrashell Mg/Ca heterogeneity exhibited by O. universa, we demonstrate that reductive and oxidative cleaning can dissolve shell calcite from available surfaces, although intrashell Mg/Ca minima and maxima are unaffected. High-resolution depth profiles can be used to identify areas of heterogeneous intrashell Ba/Ca, which can be excluded from computations of whole-shell Ba/Ca. The size and density of shell pores plays a major role in the degree of contamination from sedimentary material. We demonstrate an approach for computing whole-shell Me/Ca ratios from LA-ICP-MS depth profiles that accounts for potential contamination and diagenetic overprinting.