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Methodologies for extraction of dissolved inorganic carbon for stable carbon isotope studies : evaluation and alternatives

Water-Resources Investigations Report 82-6

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Abstract

The gas evolution and the strontium carbonate precipitation techniques to extract dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) for stable carbon isotope analysis were investigated. Theoretical considerations, involving thermodynamic calculations and computer simulation pointed out several possible sources of error in delta carbon-13 measurements of the DIC and demonstrated the need for experimental evaluation of the magnitude of the error. An alternative analytical technique, equilibration with out-gassed vapor phase, is proposed. The experimental studies revealed that delta carbon-13 of the DIC extracted from a 0.01 molar NaHC03 solution by both techniques agreed within 0.1 per mil with the delta carbon-13 of the DIC extracted by the precipitation technique, and an increase of only 0.27 per mil in that extracted by the gas evolution technique. The efficiency of extraction of DIC decreased with sulfate concentration in the precipitation technique but was independent of sulfate concentration in the gas evolution technique. Both the precipitation and gas evolution technique were found to be satisfactory for extraction of DIC from different kinds of natural water for stable carbon isotope analysis, provided appropriate precautions are observed in handling the samples. For example, it was found that diffusion of atmospheric carbon dioxide does alter the delta carbon-13 of the samples contained in polyethylene bottles; filtration and drying in the air change the delta carbon-13 of the samples contained in polyethylene bottles; filtration and drying in the air change the delta carbon-13 of the precipitation technique; hot manganese dioxide purification changes the delta carbon-13 of carbon dioxide. (USGS)

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Methodologies for extraction of dissolved inorganic carbon for stable carbon isotope studies : evaluation and alternatives
Series title:
Water-Resources Investigations Report
Series number:
82-6
Edition:
-
Year Published:
1982
Language:
ENGLISH
Publisher:
U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division,
Description:
v, 51 p. :ill. ;28 cm.