The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been producing reference materials since the 1950s. Over 50 materials have been developed to cover bulk rock, sediment, and soils for the geological community. These materials are used globally in geochemistry, environmental, and analytical laboratories that perform bulk chemistry and/or microanalysis for instrument calibration and quality assurance testing. To answer the growing demand for higher spatial resolution and sensitivity, there is a need to create a new generation of microanalytical reference materials suitable for a variety of techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy/X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDS), electron probe microanalysis (EPMA), laser ablation inductively coupled mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS), and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). As such, the microanalytical reference material (MRM) needs to be stable under the beam, be homogeneous at scales of better than 10–25 micrometers for the major to ultra-trace element level, and contain all of the analytes (elements or isotopes) of interest. Previous development of basaltic glasses intended for LA-ICP-MS has resulted in a synthetic basaltic matrix series of glasses (USGS GS-series) and a natural basalt series of glasses (BCR-1G, BHVO-2G, and NKT-1G). These materials have been useful for the LA-ICP-MS community but were not originally intended for use by the electron or ion beam community. A material developed from start to finish with intended use in multiple microanalytical instruments would be useful for inter-laboratory and inter-instrument platform comparisons.
This article summarizes the experiments undertaken to produce a basalt glass reference material suitable for distribution as a multiple-technique round robin material. The goal of the analytical work presented here is to demonstrate that the elemental homogeneity of the new glass is acceptable for its use as a reference material. Because the round robin exercise is still underway, only nominal compositional ranges for each element are given in the article.