A rapid method of simultaneous chromatographic purification of Li and Mg for isotopic analyses using MC-ICP-MS

Wei Zhang, Ryoji Tanaka, Hiroshi Kitagawa, Madeleine Bohlin, Eizou Nakamura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Lithium (Li) and Magnesium (Mg) isotopes have been widely used as valuable tracers to study geological processes. In general, several column separation procedures have been used to separate Li and Mg. In this study, we present an optimized protocol for the rapid and simultaneous purification of Li and Mg, which significantly reduces the separation time, required reagent volume, and procedural blanks compared to previous methods. Samples with small amounts of Li (generally 5 ng Li yielding Mg masses of 1–1200 μg) were separated, with the corresponding yields of Li and Mg being nearly 100%. Lithium and Mg isotope analyses were performed using an MC-ICP-MS (Thermo Scientific NEPTUNE Plus) and only <0.2 ng Li and <150 ng Mg were consumed for each analysis. Matrix-doping experiments reveal that the matrix effect is negligible for the determination of Li and Mg isotopes from a wide array of geological samples using our protocol. The robustness of the protocol has been validated by replicated analyses of standard solutions and geological standards, which yield long-term external 2σ precision better than ±0.6‰ for δ7Li and ±0.08‰ for δ26Mg. Lithium and Mg isotopic ratios of all reference materials measured in this study agreed well with previous data within uncertainties. The method developed in this study allows for the rapid and high-purity separation of Li and Mg and subsequent high-precision isotopic analyses of these elements.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116893
JournalInternational Journal of Mass Spectrometry
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Li isotope
  • Matrix effect
  • Mg isotope
  • Rapid separation
  • Single-step separation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Spectroscopy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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