The Noble Gases as Geochemical Tracers: History and Background

  • Pete BurnardEmail author
  • Laurent Zimmermann
  • Yuji Sano
Part of the Advances in Isotope Geochemistry book series (ADISOTOPE)


This chapter describes the discovery of the noble gases and the development of the first instrumentation used for noble gas isotopic analysis before outlining in very general terms how noble gases are analysed in most modern laboratories. Most modern mass spectrometers use electron impact sources and magnetic sector mass filters with detection by faraday cups and electron multipliers. Some of the performance characteristics typical of these instruments are described (sensitivity, mass discrimination). Extraction of noble gases from geological samples is for the most part achieved by phase separation, by thermal extraction (furnace) or by crushing in vacuo. The extracted gases need to be purified and separated by a combination of chemical and physical methods. The principles behind different approaches to calibrating the mass spectrometers are discussed.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et GéochimiquesVandoeuvre-lès-Nancy CedexFrance
  2. 2.Center for Advanced Marine Research, Ocean Research InstituteThe University of TokyoNakano, TokyoJapan

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