USGS Method I-1054

USGS Method I-1054

The purpose of the Reston Stable Isotope Laboratory (RSIL) lab code 1951 is to determine the δ(34S/32S), abbreviated as δ34S, of dissolved sulfate. Dissolved sulfate is collected in the field and precipitated with BaCl2 at pH 3 to 4 as BaSO4 in the laboratory. However, the dissolved organic sulfur (DOS) is oxidized to SO2, and the carbonate is acidified to CO2. Both are degassed from the water sample before the sulfate is precipitated. The precipitated BaSO4 is filtered and dried before introduction into an elemental analyzer (EA) Carlo Erba NC 2500.

The EA is used to convert sulfur in a BaSO4 solid sample into SO2 gas, and the EA is connected to a continuous flow isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (CF-IRMS), which determines the differences in the isotope-amount ratios of stable sulfur isotopes (34S/32S) of the product SO2 gas. The combustion is quantitative; no isotopic fractionation is involved. Samples are placed in a tin capsule and loaded into the Costech Zero Blank Autosampler of the EA. Under computer control, samples are dropped into a heated tube reaction tube that combines the oxidation and reduction reactions.

The combustion takes place in a helium atmosphere containing an excess of oxygen gas at the oxidation zone at the top of the reaction tube. Combustion products are transported by a helium carrier through the reduction zone at the bottom of the reaction tube to remove excess oxygen and through a separate drying tube to remove any water. The gas-phase products, mainly CO2, N2, and SO2, are separated by a gas chromatograph. The gas is then introduced into the isotope-ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) through a Finnigan MAT (now Thermo Scientific) ConFlo II interface, which also is used to inject SO2 reference gas and helium for sample dilution. The IRMS is a Thermo Scientific Delta V Plus CF-IRMS. It has a universal triple collector with two wide cups and a narrow cup in the middle. It is capable of measuring mass/charge (m/z) 64 and 66 simultaneously.


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