2001 Volume 77 Issue 1 Pages 13-17
An aluminum fluoride, AlF3, forms during HF digestion of felsic rock samples, for trace element and isotope geochemistry, which use a Teflon bomb at high temperature and pressure. The AlF3 incorporates trace elements (Rb, Sr, Y, Cs, Ba, REE, Pb, Th, and U), and can not be decomposed by conventional methods such as evaporation with HClO4. The production of this AlF3 results in lower yields and poor accuracy in analyses of these trace elements by ICP-MS. The formation of AlF3 is controlled by the chemical composition of the rock samples, in particular, AlF3 does not form during decomposition of mafic samples with relatively high (Mg+Ca)/Al ratios. We have developed a new method to suppress the AlF3 formation, in which excess Mg is added to the sample prior to acid digestion in the bomb. This new method makes it possible to accurately determine the trace element compositions of higher-Al rock samples with lower concentrations of Mg and Ca (e.g. rhyolite and granite). In the trace element analyses by TIMS with isotope dilution techniques (ID-TIMS), AlF3 formation hinders the achievement of isotope equilibrium, resulting in erroneous results. However, the Mg-addition method removed this problem by suppression of AlF3 formation.