Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 407, Issue 2, pp 379–385 | Cite as

Cross calibration between XRF and ICP-MS for high spatial resolution analysis of ombrotrophic peat cores for palaeoclimatic studies

  • Luisa Poto
  • Jacopo Gabrieli
  • Simon Crowhurst
  • Claudio Agostinelli
  • Andrea Spolaor
  • Warren R. L. Cairns
  • Giulio Cozzi
  • Carlo BarbanteEmail author
Research Paper
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. ABC Highlights: authored by Rising Stars and Top Experts


Ombrotrophic peatlands are remarkable repositories of high-quality climatic signals because their only source of nutrients is precipitation. Although several analytical techniques are available for analysing inorganic components in peat samples, they generally provide only low-resolution data sets. Here we present a new analytical approach for producing high-resolution data on main and trace elements from ombrotrophic peat cores. Analyses were carried out on a 7-m-long peat core collected from Danta di Cadore, North-Eastern Italy (46° 34′ 16″ N, 12° 29′ 58″ E). Ca, Ti, Cr, Fe, Cu, Zn, Ga, Sr, Y, Cd, Ba and Pb were detected at a resolution of 2.5 mm with a non-destructive X-ray fluorescence core scanner (XRF-CS). Calibration and quantification of the XRF-CS intensities was obtained using collision reaction cell inductively coupled plasma quadruple mass spectrometry (CRC-ICP-QMS). CRC-ICP-QMS measurements were carried out on discrete samples at a resolution of 1 cm, after dissolution of 150-mg aliquots with 9 ml HNO3 and 1 ml HF at 220 °C in a microwave system. We compare qualitative XRF-CS and quantitative CRC-ICP-MS data and, however the several sources of variability of the data, develop a robust statistical approach to determine the R 2 and the coefficient of a simple regression model together with confidence intervals. Perfect positive correlations were estimated for Cd, Cr, Pb, Sr, Ti and Zn; high positive correlations for Ba (0.8954), Y (0.7378), Fe (0.7349) and Cu (0.7028); while moderate positive correlations for Ga (0.5951) and Ca (0.5435). With our results, we demonstrate that XRF scanning techniques can be used, together with other well-established geochemical techniques (such as ICP-MS), to produce high-resolution (up to 2.5 mm) quantitative data from ombrotrophic peat bog cores.


The background picture represents the sampling location in Danta di Cadore (Belluno Provice). The graph shows parallel XRF-CS and ICP-MS measurements for Ca: XRF-CS cps on the left axis and ICP-MS concentrations (μg l-1) on the right axis.


ICP-MS XRF Trace elements Palaeoclimate 



The research leading to these results has received funding from CNR-IDPA (Next-Data project), Fondazione per l’Alta Cultura Bellunese and the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013)/ERC Grant agreement no. 267696—‘EARLYhumanIMPACT’. This is EARLYhumanIMPACT contribution 12. We are grateful to colleagues for technical and scientific assistance, and in particular, we would like to thank David Hodell for allowing the author Luisa Poto access to the facilities at the Godwin Laboratory for Palaeoclimate Research in the Department of Earth Sciences (Cambridge University) and Michael Krachler for his valuable advice on the acid digestion of peat samples.

Supplementary material

216_2014_8289_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (163 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 162 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Luisa Poto
    • 1
  • Jacopo Gabrieli
    • 1
  • Simon Crowhurst
    • 2
  • Claudio Agostinelli
    • 3
  • Andrea Spolaor
    • 3
  • Warren R. L. Cairns
    • 1
  • Giulio Cozzi
    • 1
  • Carlo Barbante
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute for the Dynamics of Environmental ProcessesIDPA/CNRVeneziaItaly
  2. 2.Godwin Laboratory of Palaeoclimate Research, Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and StatisticsUniversity Ca’ Foscari of VeniceVeneziaItaly
  4. 4.Centro Linceo B. SegreAccademia Nazionale dei LinceiRomeItaly

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