Methods for in situ SIMS microanalysis of Boron and its isotopes in palagonite

Bruce D. Pauly, Lynda Williams, Richard Hervig, Peter Schiffman, Robert A. Zierenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Boron has been shown to be a useful trace element in clay-mineralization reactions, raising the possibility that B studies may provide a means to investigate environmental controls on palagonitization. The objective of the present study was to address calibration, matrix effects, and B exchangeability issues such that meaningful secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) microanalysis of B in thin sections of palagonite will be feasible. Silver Hill illite (IMt-1) was found to be a suitable calibration reference material, based on compositional similarity, relatively high B content, and ease of mounting on thin-section samples for SIMS microanalysis. Matrix effects of borated sideromelane and illite were compared and found to be similar, confirming previous studies which showed no matrix effects for B among minerals. Boron substitutes for Si in tetrahedral sites and also can be adsorbed in exchangeable sites of 2:1 clay minerals. Similarly, B can be found in tetrahedral and exchangeable sites within palagonite, which consists of both layered and amorphous volumes. In order to measure tetrahedral B content and isotopic ratio in the palagonite, exchangeable B was removed by soaking sample thin sections in a 1 M NH4Cl solution until exchangeable cation concentrations were constant. Treated samples showed decreases in B content and isotopic ratio with exchange. Extraction of exchangeable B permits the direct measurement of tetrahedral B content and isotopic ratio. The exchange technique devised and tested here should have broad applicability to thin-section microanalysis of B in clay and clay-like materials where cation exchange can be used for surface-analytical techniques. The present study represents an initial attempt to address sample-preparation, calibration, and potential matrix-effects problems for analyses by SIMS. Further refinements may improve the accuracy of the measurements, but the results presented here indicate that meaningful measurements are possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-234
Number of pages11
JournalClays and Clay Minerals
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2014


  • B content
  • B exchangeability
  • B isotopes
  • Boron
  • Palagonitization
  • SIMS
  • Sideromelane
  • Thin Section

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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