Welcome to the new version of CaltechAUTHORS. Login is currently restricted to library staff. If you notice any issues, please email coda@library.caltech.edu
Published June 1996 | public
Journal Article

The issue of the terrestrial record of ^(146)Sm


Harper and Jacobsen (1992a) have reported a 33 μ (μ = parts per million) ^(142)Nd excess in a 3.8 Ga felsic gneiss (IE 715-28) from Isua, West Greenland. This excess was interpreted as due to a preserved effect in a parent reservoir produced early (between 4.5 and 4.3 Ga) while the short-lived parent of ^(142)Nd (^(146)Sm, T = 149 Mɑ was still alive. If this result can be substantiated it would indicate an early earth differentiation and generation of parent reservoirs with large Sm/Nd ratios and it would suggest the existence of mechanisms that preserved the ^(142)Nd excess in a 3.8 Ga crustal rock. However, no independent evidence for the ^(142)Nd excesses has been found for other terrestrial samples (Goldstein and Galer, 1992, 1993; McCulloch and Bennett, 1993; Regelous and Collerson, 1995a,b). Inasmuch as the level of the reported effect ( ∼30 μ excess of ^(142)Nd) requires hitherto undocumented high precision, our efforts have been directed toward addressing the central issue of whether existing high precision mass spectrometers can resolve ∼30 μ ^(142)Nd excesses. Standards were made up with 0, 30, and 57 μ ^(142)Nd excesses to test the reliability and reproducibility of measuring such isotopic shifts. We used the same model, multicollector mass spectrometer (Finnigan MAT 262) as Harper and Jacobsen (1992a). The data were obtained with 2 × 10^(−11) A ^(142)Nd^+ ion beams, in the static mode. Our experiments show that positioning of the sample filament and ion source focusing potentials can engender large effects (up to 60 μ) and arbitrary shifts in measured '42Nd/'44Nd ratios. We have not been able to identify an a priori method for avoiding these shifts. Under restricted focusing conditions, borne out from our experimentation, it is possible to obtain reproducible results for a short term. Since there is little understanding of what constitutes "reproducible conditions," especially when it comes to ion beam focusing, we believe it is not yet possible to obtain reliable results at the level required. Using restricted focusing conditions, we found strong hints of ^(142)Nd excesses in two rocks from Isua, including the sample analyzed by Harper and Jacobsen (1992a) thereby supporting their claim of an effect. However, we did not find it possible to achieve the level of precision reported by these workers. Moreover, it has not been possible for us to reproduce the results on standards and samples in any regular way. This difficulty has persisted throughout an extensive series of experiments in which considerable care was directed towards identifying optimal instrumental operating conditions. We conclude that further refinements in the experimental techniques are needed to obtain reliable ultra high precision measurements. This is necessary before the issue of a terrestrial record of ^(141)Sm is resolved.

Additional Information

© 1996 Elsevier Science Ltd. Received October 30, 1995; accepted in revised form February 22, 1996. We are grateful to Drs. K. Habfast and H.-J. Laue for inputs on the high precision multi-collector mass spectrometry. We thank L. E. Nyquist, S. B. Jacobsen, A. W. Hofmann, S. J. G. Galer, and S. L. Goldstein for discussions. D. J. DePaolo, S. J. G. Galer, G. W. Lugmair, and U. Ott provided constructive reviews of this paper. These reviewers were kind enough to press us in the right and hopefully correct direction. This work was supported by NASA (NAGW-3337). Division Contribution No. 5438 (867). Editorial handling: U. Ott

Additional details

August 18, 2023
October 25, 2023