View More View Less
  • 1 The State University of New Jersey Department of Chemistry, Rutgers 08903 New Brunswick N. J. USA
  • 2 University of Colorado Mountain Research Station and Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) 80309 Boulder Co. USA
  • 3 VG Instruments Inc. 01923 Danvers Ma. USA
Restricted access


Inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) was evaluated for major, minor, trace, and ultra-trace elemental analyses of individual tree rings. The samples were obtained from an old-growth Douglas fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) growing 15 km northeast of Mount St. Helens volcano, Washington, USA and from trees at various other North American sites. Samples were brought into solution by microwave digestion in sealed Teflon vessels. Eightly percent of elements from Li to U had detection limits in the solid (wood) below 8.0 ng g–1 (parts per billion, ppb). When selected element concentrations in the Mount St. Helens samples are plotted against time, two anomalous peaks occur at A. D. 1478 and 1490 that closely correlate with past eruptions of the volcano. These preliminary results show that ICP-MS is a rapid and sensitive analytical method for multielemental analyses of individual tree rings.