Journal of Earth Science

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 223–229 | Cite as

A Fast Separation Method for Isotope Analysis Based on Compressed Nitrogen Gas and Ion-Exchange Chromatography Technique—A Case Study of Sr-Nd Isotope Measurement

  • Honglin Yuan
  • Xu Liu
  • Zhian Bao
  • Kaiyun Chen
  • Chunlei Zong
Isotope Geochronology


High-purity N2 was used to increase the mobile phase flow rate during ion purification of ion-exchange resin. This was performed to improve the efficiency of isotope separation and purification, and to meet the efficiency requirements of rapid multiple-collector-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (MC-ICPMS) analysis. For Cu isotope separation, our results indicated that at a gas flow rate >60 mL/min, the separation chromatographic peaks broadened and the recovery rate decreased to <99.2%. On the other hand, no significant change in the Cu peaks was observed at a gas flow rate of 20 mL/min and the recovery rate was determined to be >99.9%. The Cu isotope ratio, measured by the standard-sample bracketing method, agreed with reference data within a ±2 SD error range. The separation time was reduced from the traditional 10 h (without N2) to 4 h (with N2), indicating that the efficiency was more than doubled. Moreover, Sr and Nd isotope separation in AGV-2 (US Geological Survey andesite standard sample) accelerated with a 20 mL/min gas flow, demonstrating that with the passage of N2, the purified liquid comprised Rb/Sr and Sm/Nd ratios of <0.000 049 and <0.000 001 5, respectively. This indicated an effective separation of Rb from Sr and Sm from Nd. MC-ICPMS could therefore be applied to accurately determine Sr and Nd isotope ratios. The results afforded were consistent with the reference data within a ±2 SD error range and the total separation time was shortened from 2 d to <10 h.

Key words

fast isotope purification MC-ICPMS N2 gas flow Cu isotope Sr-Nd isotopes 


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This work was co-supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41427804, 41421002, 41373004), Program for Changjiang Scholars and Innovative Research Team in University of China (No. IRT1281), and the MOST Research Foundation from the State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics. The final publication is available at Springer via

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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Continental Dynamics, Department of GeologyNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina
  2. 2.Collaborative Innovation Center of Continental TectonicsXi’anChina
  3. 3.College of Chemistry and Materials ScienceNorthwest UniversityXi’anChina

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