X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) has been used extensively to analyze many types of environmental samples, including lake sediments. In most cases, however, analyses have required either a relatively large sample mass or sample pretreatment, e.g. lithium borate fusion, and have not taken advantage of the potential of XRF analysis as a non-destructive technique. This paper describes the development of two completely non-destructive calibration methods that use small, i.e. 200- and 500-mg loose-powder sediment samples. Analytical performance of these methods was assessed using ten different certified reference materials and a previously analyzed sediment profile, and for both methods, accuracy and precision were less than +/- 10 % (or a few ppm) for 26 elements (Na, Mg, Al, Si, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Mn, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, As, Br, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Sn, Sb, Ba, W and Pb). This shows that quantitative wavelength dispersive X-ray fluorescence analysis, using small loose-powder samples, can be a useful geochemical tool for many paleolimnological applications, especially because lack of pretreatment ensures that samples can be used for further analysis.
Springer Netherlands, 2014. Vol. 52, no 3, 265-276 p.