Here a method for the precise analysis of Cd/Ca in coral skeleton using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) is presented. Isotope dilution and gravimetric standards with internal standardization were used for Cd and Ca determination, respectively. Separation of alkaline earth metals from Cd using ion chromatography reduced the high total dissolved solids while maintaining a strong Cd signal. Repeated Cd/Ca measurements of a coral standard yielded a precision of ±2.2% (one standard deviation as a fraction of signal). Analyses of reference materials (BCR-1, BHVO-1, W-2, GSR-3, GSR-6, CACB-1, JCp-1, and JCt-1) fell within established ranges, with a precision comparable to other ICP-MS measurements. Advantages of this approach over existing methods for corals are as follows: (1) reduced introduction of high-concentration elements into the mass spectrometer, (2) sample requirements as low as 15 mg (i.e., ≥1 pmol Cd/sample), and (3) determination of multiple element ratios on the same sample aliquot with a precision of ±7% or better.
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