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TitleUranium, thorium, and potassium analyses using pXRF spectrometry
LicencePlease note the adoption of the Open Government Licence - Canada supersedes any previous licences.
AuthorKnight, R DORCID logo; Kjarsgaard, B AORCID logo; Potter, E GORCID logo; Plourde, AORCID logo
SourceGeological Survey of Canada, Open File 8801, 2021, 23 pages, Open Access logo Open Access
PublisherNatural Resources Canada
Documentopen file
Mediaon-line; digital
RelatedNRCan photo(s) in this publication
File formatreadme
File formatpdf; rtf; xls (Microsoft® Excel®); xlsx (Microsoft® Excel®)
Subjectsgeochemistry; economic geology; Science and Technology; Nature and Environment; field methods; in-field instrumentation; analytical methods; x-ray fluorescence; spectrometric analyses; uranium geochemistry; thorium geochemistry; potassium geochemistry; mineral deposits; mineralization; mineral occurrences; uranium; statistical methods; mineral exploration; exploration methods; Methodology
Illustrationstables; photographs; plots; spectra
ProgramTargeted Geoscience Initiative (TGI-5) Uranium ore systems - fluid pathways
Released2021 10 06
AbstractThe application of portable XRF spectrometry (pXRF) for determining concentrations of uranium (U), thorium (Th) and potassium (K) was evaluated using a combination of 12 Certified Reference Materials, 17 Standard Reference Materials, and 25 rock samples collected from areas of known U occurrences or mineralization. Samples were analysed by pXRF in Soil, Mining Cu/Zn and Mining Ta/Hf modes. Resulting pXRF data were compared to published recommended values, obtained by total or near total digestion methods with ICP-MS and ICP-OES analysis.
Results for pXRF show a linear relationship, for thorium, potassium, and uranium (<5000 ppm U) as compared to the recommended concentrations. However, above 5000 ppm U, pXRF results show an exponential relationship with under reporting of pXRF concentrations compared to recommended values. Accuracy of the data can be improved by post-analysis correction using linear regression equations for potassium and thorium, and samples with <5000 ppm uranium; an exponential correction curve is required at >5000 ppm U. In addition, pXRF analyses of samples with high concentrations of uranium (e.g. >1 wt.% U) significantly over-estimated potassium contents as compared to the published values, indicating interference between the two elements not calibrated by the manufacturer software.
Summary(Plain Language Summary, not published)
The objective of this open file is to report on the precision and accuracy of a portable XRF for the analysis of Uranium (U), Thorium (Th), and Potassium (K). Uranium being the heaviest, final element in the periodic table capable of being quantified by pXRF spectrometers. To constrain the analysis and ensure analytical confidence we examine a suit of Certified Reference Materials (CRM's), Standard Reference Materials (SRM's), and rocks collected from areas of known Uranium enrichment.

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