Synchrotron X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy of salts in natural sea ice

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Earth And Space Science


Thayer School of Engineering


We describe the use of synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy to examine the microstructural location of specific elements, primarily salts, in sea ice. This work was part of an investigation of the location of bromine in the sea ice-snowpack-blowing snow system, where it plays a part in the heterogeneous chemistry that contributes to tropospheric ozone depletion episodes. We analyzed samples at beamline 13-ID-E of the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Using an 18keV incident energy beam, we produced elemental maps of salts for sea ice samples from the Ross Sea, Antarctica. The distribution of salts in sea ice depends on ice type. In our columnar ice samples, Br was located in parallel lines spaced roughly 0.5mm apart, corresponding to the spacing of lamellae in the skeletal region during initial ice growth. The maps revealed concentrations of Br in linear features in samples from all but the topmost and bottommost depths. For those samples, the maps revealed rounded features. Calibration of the Br elemental maps showed bulk concentrations to be 5-10g/m(3), with concentrations ten times larger in the linear features. Through comparison with horizontal thin sections, we could verify that these linear features were brine sheets or layers.