Measurement of SIMS instrumental mass fractionation of Pb isotopes during zircon dating

Richard A. Stern*, Simon Bodorkos, Sandra L. Kamo, Arthur H. Hickman, Fernando Corfu

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    294 Citations (Scopus)


    An igneous zircon reference material (OG1) was characterised for U-Pb isotopes by ID-TIMS, and utilised to evaluate SIMS (SHRIMP) instrumental mass fractionation (IMF) of radiogenic Pb isotopes (207 Pb*/206Pb*). The TIMS 207Pb*/ 206Pb* reference value for OG1 was 0.29907 ± 0.00011 (95% confidence limit), 3465.4 ± 0.6 Ma. The high 207Pb* (∼ 30 μg g-1), negligible common Pb, and isotopic homogeneity permitted precise (± 1-2‰) 207Pb*/206Pb* measurements within the analytical sessions. External reproducibility of mean 207Pb*/206Pb* ratios between sessions was demonstrated for one instrument, yielding a mean IMF of +0.87 ± 0.49‰. The mean 207Pb*/ 206Pb* ratios between instruments were dispersed beyond uncertainties, with session IMF values from +3.6 ± 1.7‰ to -2.4 ± 1.3‰, and a grand mean IMF value (twenty-six sessions) of +0.70 ± 0.52‰, indicating a tendency towards elevated 207Pb*/206Pb*. The specific causes of variability in IMF are unclear, but generally reflect subtle differences in analytical conditions. The common practice in SIMS of assuming that IMF for Pb+ is insignificant could result in systematic age biases and underestimated uncertainties, of critical importance for precise correlation of Precambrian events. Nevertheless, a zircon RM such as OG1 can be readily incorporated into routine dating to improve 207Pb*/206Pb* accuracy and external reproducibility.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)145-168
    Number of pages24
    JournalGeostandards and Geoanalytical Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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