Ultra-trace element characterization of the Central Ottawa River Basin using a rapid, flexible, and low-volume ICP-MS method

Abstract

Ultra-trace (−1) rare earth elements and yttrium (REE + Y) and high field strength element (HFSE) geochemistry of freshwater can constrain element sources, aqueous processes in hydrologic catchments, and the signature of dissolved terrestrial fluxes to the oceans. This study details an adapted method capable of quantifying ≥ 38 elements (including all REE + Y, Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Mo, W, Th, U) with minimal sample preparation in natural water aliquots as low as ≤ 2 mL. The method precision and accuracy are demonstrated using measurement of the National Research Council – Conseil national de recherches Canada (NRC-CNRC) river water certified reference material (CRM) SLRS-6 sampled from the Ottawa River (OR). Data from SLRS CRM are compared to those of new, filtered ( HREE-enriched REE + Y patterns, small natural positive Y and Gd anomalies, and negative Eu and Ce anomalies. These REE + Y features are coherent downstream in the OR apart from amplification of Eu and Ce anomalies during REE removal/dilution. The OR samples capture a downstream decrease in sparingly soluble HFSE (Th, Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf), presumably related to their colloid-particulate removal from the dissolved load, accompanied by crustal Zr/Hf (32.5 ± 5.1) and supercrustal Nb/Ta (25.1 ± 7.7) ratios. Subcrustal Th/U (0.17–0.96) and supercrustal Mo/W (12.0–74.5) ratios in all ORB waters indicate preferential release and aqueous solubility of U > Th and Mo > W, with the latter attributed primarily to preferential W adsorption on soil or upstream aquatic (oxy)(hydr)oxide surfaces.</p

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