Water isotopic ratios from a continuously melted ice core sample
Abstract. A new technique for on-line high resolution isotopic analysis of liquid water, tailored for ice core studies is presented. We built an interface between a Wavelength Scanned Cavity Ring Down Spectrometer (WS-CRDS) purchased from Picarro Inc. and a Continuous Flow Analysis (CFA) system. The system offers the possibility to perform simultaneuous water isotopic analysis of δ18O and δD on a continuous stream of liquid water as generated from a continuously melted ice rod. Injection of sub μl amounts of liquid water is achieved by pumping sample through a fused silica capillary and instantaneously vaporizing it with 100% efficiency in a~home made oven at a temperature of 170 °C. A calibration procedure allows for proper reporting of the data on the VSMOW–SLAP scale. We apply the necessary corrections based on the assessed performance of the system regarding instrumental drifts and dependance on the water concentration in the optical cavity. The melt rates are monitored in order to assign a depth scale to the measured isotopic profiles. Application of spectral methods yields the combined uncertainty of the system at below 0.1‰ and 0.5‰ for δ18O and δD, respectively. This performance is comparable to that achieved with mass spectrometry. Dispersion of the sample in the transfer lines limits the temporal resolution of the technique. In this work we investigate and assess these dispersion effects. By using an optimal filtering method we show how the measured profiles can be corrected for the smoothing effects resulting from the sample dispersion. Considering the significant advantages the technique offers, i.e. simultaneuous measurement of δ18O and δD, potentially in combination with chemical components that are traditionally measured on CFA systems, notable reduction on analysis time and power consumption, we consider it as an alternative to traditional isotope ratio mass spectrometry with the possibility to be deployed for field ice core studies. We present data acquired in the field during the 2010 season as part of the NEEM deep ice core drilling project in North Greenland.
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