Contaminant Source Apportionment by Pimms Lead Isotope Analysis and Sem-Image Analysis

R.A.R. McGill, J.M. Pearce, N.J. Fortey, J. Watt, L. Ault, R.R. Parrish

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    By combining scanning electron microscopy (SEM) image analysis and laser ablation plasma ionisation multi-collector mass spectrometry (LA-PIMMS), high precision lead isotope analyses can be obtained from individual metal-rich particles. Soils from Wolverhampton and Nottingham were sampled on the basis of high Pb concentrations or brownfield location. Pressed powder pellets of each were rastered by LA-PIMMS to obtain a bulk Pb-isotope signature. The results plot along an apparent mixing line between the major sources of lead contamination in the UK, that is UK ore deposits and alkyl-lead from petrol additives (Australian ore). Two particularly lead-rich soils were chosen to investigate the lead distribution and isotope variability between size and density fractions. The fine-grained and low-density fractions contained most of the lead and have Pb-isotope ratios comparable with the bulk soils. By contrast, the small, lead-enriched denser fractions contained only a minor proportion of the total lead but Pb-isotope signatures indicating relative enrichment in one or other of the end-members from the mixing line. Further characterisation of individual Pb-rich grains is in progress.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-32
    JournalEnvironmental Geochemistry and Health
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2003


    • Earth Science
    • Lead isotopes
    • SEM image analysis
    • brownfield soils


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