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Collaborative Research Collaborative Research

Nuclear Microprobe analysis, which provides non-destructive, quantitative, simultaneous multielement analysis and imaging at ppm sensitivity and micron resolution, provides a complement to high sensitivity, but destructive, point analysis methods, such as laser-ablation ICP/MS, and routine methods for major element analysis and imaging, such as the electron microprobe (EMP).
Nuclear Microanalysis at CSIRO

Collaborative Research

The CSIRO-GEMOC Nuclear Microprobe (NMP) is available for collaborative research and commercial contract analysis and imaging. Please make contact via email (or by the telephone and fax numbers listed at the bottom of this page) to discuss your particular geological problem or microanalytical requirements, or to develop new research proposals.

The guidelines and information below should help in sample selection and preparation. However, if something is not clear, please send an email.

Advanced features of NMP microanalysis


The NMP can accommodate the usual mineralogical samples that are used for EMP analysis. These include thin-sections on 2" x 1" glass slides, and grain mounts set in 25 mm diameter polished epoxy blocks. The NMP is less sensitive to surface roughness. Hence, samples need only be polished with diamond paste.

Note: Glass slides must not be wider than 26.0 mm.

There is no need for a tin-oxide or cerium-oxide polish step. Indeed, these should be avoided to reduce contamination of the sample with these trace elements. Similarly, avoid using marker pens (possible Br, Cu contamination) or silver-dag during EMP analysis (use carbon dag instead); in practice, it is impossible to completely remove such contamination.

Glass slides should be no wider than 26 mm. The stage can take a total slide length of 85 mm. So more samples can be mounted together if they are shorter in length. However, a sample change takes only about 10 minutes to complete.

Generally, samples need a conductive carbon coating. But this can be done at the CSIRO.

Fluid Inclusion analysis and imaging

Fluid Inclusion Samples

For convenience, it is best to glue quartz chips containing fluid inclusions onto a glass slide, or set them in an epoxy block. The stage can take a total slide length of 85 mm. So more samples can be mounted together if they are shorter in length.

Note: Glass slides must not be wider than 26.0 mm.

The long range of 3 MeV protons, which makes fluid inclusion analysis possible, also means that the beam can penetrate through a chip and burn the glue behind. This can impair the view through the microscope using transmitted light illumination. Hence, choose chips with thicknesses of 100 µm or greater.

Some samples contain enormous numbers of solid phases, fluid inclusions and fractures. In these cases don't make the chips too thick, as the view will be very cluttered and confused, particularly through our long working-distance microscope. Around 100-150 µm is ideal.

Take care with sample mounting to ensure that the glue layer behind is clear, uniform and free of bubbles. Bubbles here, as viewed through our long-working distance microscope can masquerade as a miriad of fluid inclusions. Similarly, make sure the surface of the sample chip is free of any glue residues.

Preparation Prior to Fluid Inclusion Analysis


In order to guarantee the analysis of selected fluid inclusions, it is necessary to bring photomicrographs at low and high magnification. The low mag photos should enable local navigation, and the high mag photos (x100 printed on A4 paper is ideal) enables the correct identification of inclusions.

If possible, bring non-inverted images which will match the on-line microscope. (Normal microscope images are inverted. These can be "mirrored" in most image manipulation programs.)

Fluid Inclusion Selection

Ideally, select fluid inclusions in the size range 10-30 µm in diameter, and with depths of less than 20 µm; less than 10 µm is ideal. Inclusions down to ~3 µm in diameter can be analyzed, but at reduced sensitivity, and only in clear samples. Measure inclusion depths prior to analysis on the NMP, ideally using a spindle stage or confocal microscopy (or laser Raman in confocal mode).

Larger inclusions are useful as they will provide better elemental images of their contents, but they are probably less representative of a given inclusion population, and will be more difficult to make quantitative.

Remember that the on-line microscope in the nuclear microprobe has a long working-distance and plane transmitted light illumination, which make everything at all depths visible to varying degrees, so avoid areas with great detail beneath the plane of the inclusions.

Fluid Inclusion Parameters

Measure the X,Y dimensions of each inclusion. Estimate these as the dimensions of an ellipse of the same area as the inclusion. Measure the depth to the mid-plane focus of the inclusion. With the depth measurement, remember that you need to scale your microscope Z scale by the refractive index (eg. 1.54 for quartz).

For best results, use a spindle stage, confocal microscope, or laser Raman microprobe used in confocal mode, to measure the depth (from sample surface to the top of the inclusion) and its thickness.

Also provide an estimate of the homogeneous density of the inclusion contents, and if available the microthermometry data (homogenization temperature and equivalent salinity).

A spreadsheet listing all required parameters for PIXE analysis is available from the CSIRO at this link. Download a copy of this spreadsheet, to be completed before your analysis session, to streamline analysis of your inclusions.

Fluid Inclusion Analyses

Depending on the sizes of inclusions, nature of the sample, concentration of fluids and sensitivity required, between about 20 and 40 fluid inclusions can be analyzed typically per working day.

Quotations and Analysis Costs

Quotations and Analysis Costs

Rates for NMP analysis vary according to the nature of the work and the form of collaboration. For example, we can analyze between 20 and 40 fluid inclusions per day, depending on the size of the inclusions and the nature of the sample, and between 2 and 12 images per day, depending on the assemblage, required detection limits and image area. Please contact the CSIRO for advice, for a quotation or to discuss your research proposal.

Two basic styles of work are offered:

  • Commercial analyses, in which the results remain confidential for a time.
  • Collaborative research projects, in which there is a sharing of information about the study area and geology, joint publications and reduced rates.

For further information contact: Dr Jamie Laird or Dr Chris Ryan
Phone +61-3-8344 8375
Fax orders +61-8-6436 8586
CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering
c/o School of Physics, University of Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia
CSIRO Australia

CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering
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Please direct comments about this web page to Chris Ryan.
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