U.S. Department of Energy


Date of this Version



Environ. Sci. Technol. 2012, 46, 2025−2032


Laser ablation with inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) was used to measure elemental concentrations at the 100-μm scale in a 3-dimensional manner within a basaltic clast sample collected from the Hanford 300 Area in south-central Washington State, United States. A calibration method was developed to quantify the LAICP- MS signal response using a constant-sum mass fraction of eight major elements; the method produced reasonable concentration measurements for both major and trace elements when compared to a standard basalt sample with known concentrations. 3-Dimensional maps (stacked 2-D contour layers, each representing 2100 μm × 2100 μm) show relatively uniform concentration with depth for intrinsic elements such as Si, Na, and Sr. However, U and Cu accumulation were observed near the sample surface, consistent with the site’s release history of these contaminants. U and Cu show substantial heterogeneity in their concentration distributions within horizontal slices, while the intrinsic elements are essentially uniformly distributed. From these measured U concentrations and published grain size distributions, gravel and cobbles were estimated to contain about 1% of the contaminant U, implicating the coarse fraction as a long-term release source.