EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Soluble/insoluble fractionation of elements in mineral dust from Antarctic samples

Elena Di Stefano1,2,3, Giovanni Baccolo2,4, Paolo Gabrielli5, Aja Ellis5, Barbara Delmonte4, and Valter Maggi2,4
Elena Di Stefano et al.
  • 1Physics Department, University Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
  • 2Milano-Bicocca Section, Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare, 20126 Milano, Italy
  • 3Department of Physical, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Siena, 53100 Siena, Italy
  • 4Environmental and Earth Sciences Department, University Milano-Bicocca, 20126 Milano, Italy
  • 5Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210.

Deposition of dust on the Antarctic continent is controlled by many factors, such as the primary supply of dust particles from the continents [1], the long range transport, the hydrological cycle and the snow accumulation rate [2, 3]. Thus, the study of mineral dust in ice cores gives the possibility to reconstruct past climatic and environmental conditions.

Generally, when an ice core sample is melted, soluble elements dissolve in water, while insoluble elements remain in the solid phase. Other elements, such as iron, calcium, potassium and sulfur, typically partition between the soluble and the insoluble fractions. However recent studies have shown how the dust record may be chemically and physically altered in deep ice cores [4, 5], posing a challenge in the interpretation of the climatic signal that may lie within such samples. In particular, relative abundance of specific elements was shown to be different when comparing shallow and deep dust samples, suggesting that post depositional processes are taking place.

In this study we present a comparison between samples belonging to the Talos Dome ice core analyzed through two different techniques: instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). While the former is used to investigate only the insoluble fraction of dust, as it can only be applied to solid samples, the latter is used to assess the elemental composition of both the total and the soluble fraction of dust. We determined 45 elements through ICP-MS and 39 through INAA, with a good overlapping of the elements between the two techniques. Besides the determination of major elements, the high sensibility of both techniques also permitted the determination of trace elements. Among these, rare earth elements (REE) are of particular importance as they have been widely used as a geochemical tracer of aeolian dust sources [6]. We here present depth profiles for each analysed element, covering discrete portions of the entire ice core.



[1] Petit, Jean-Robert, et al. "Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica." Nature 399.6735 (1999): 429-436.

[2] Lambert, Fabrice, et al. "Dust-climate couplings over the past 800,000 years from the EPICA Dome C ice core." Nature 452.7187 (2008): 616.

[3] Wegner, Anna, et al. "The role of seasonality of mineral dust concentration and size on glacial/interglacial dust changes in the EPICA Dronning Maud Land ice core." Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 120.19 (2015): 9916-9931.

[4] Baccolo, Giovanni, et al. “The contribution of synchrotron light for the characterization of atmospheric mineral dust in deep ice cores: Preliminary results from the Talos Dome ice core (East Antarctica).” Condensed Matter 3, no. 3 (2018): 25.

[5] De Angelis, Martine, et al. “Micro-investigation of EPICA Dome C bottom ice: Evidence of long term in situ processes involving acid-salt interactions, mineral dust, and organic matter.” Quaternary Science Reviews 78 (2013): 248-265.

[6] Gabrielli, Paolo, et al. “A major glacial-interglacial change in aeolian dust composition inferred from Rare Earth Elements in Antarctic ice.” Quaternary Science Reviews 29, no. 1-2 (2010): 265-273.


How to cite: Di Stefano, E., Baccolo, G., Gabrielli, P., Ellis, A., Delmonte, B., and Maggi, V.: Soluble/insoluble fractionation of elements in mineral dust from Antarctic samples, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-15986,, 2020

This abstract will not be presented.