Improved methods for high-precision Pb–Pb dating of extra-terrestrial materials

J. N. Connelly, J. Bollard, M. M. Costa, P. Vermeesch and M. Bizzarro

Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry
First published on 20 Oct 2021


“Dating meteoritic materials by the Pb–Pb isochron method depends on constructing linear arrays typically defined by mixtures of initial and radiogenic Pb after the removal of terrestrial contaminant Pb. The method also depends on minimizing the amount of laboratory Pb blank added to the sample during processing and analyses. With the aim to analyze smaller sample sizes and decrease processing times, we have devised a new method for the construction of isochrons using the stepwise dissolution of meteoritic materials that better defines reduced amounts of Pb blank, reduces the risk of random anomalous Pb contamination, and increases sample throughput. Samples are processed in a PFA Teflon™ pipette tip fitted with a frit inside a heated, sealed chamber that can be manually over-pressured to expel reagents directly into a PFA Teflon™ vial below. With four independent chambers, three samples can be processed simultaneously with a fourth position to assess the Pb contribution of the combined blank and spike for each step. The matched blank-spike Pb for each step provides a specific blank estimate for each step that ensures a more accurate correction for non-sample Pb and, therefore, reduces the uncertainty on each analysis. We assess the performance of this new method by reporting the results of dating a fragment of a chondrule from the well-characterized CBa chondrite Gujba and compare these results with previously published data for this meteorite. The improvements reduce the minimum sample sizes that can be successfully dated by the Pb–Pb method, an important development for size-limited materials such as small chondrules and samples returned from space missions.”