Nitrogen incorporation in silicates and metals: Results from SIMS, EPMA, FTIR, and laser-extraction mass spectrometry

Jed L. Mosenfelder, Anette Von Der Handt, Evelyn Füri, Celia Dalou, Richard L. Hervig, George R. Rossman, Marc M. Hirschmann

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11 Scopus citations


A quantitative understanding of nitrogen incorporation in Earth materials is important for constraining volatile evolution in planetary bodies. We used a combination of chemical (SIMS, EPMA, and laser-extraction mass spectrometry) and spectroscopic (FTIR) observations to study nitrogen contents and speciation mechanisms in silicate glasses, metal alloys, and an N-bearing silicate mineral (hyalophane). One suite of Fe-free basaltic glasses was studied by all four methods. Concentrations of N in these glasses determined by EPMA are systematically higher than those measured by laser extraction but agree within mutual 2s uncertainties, demonstrating the general veracity of the EPMA method. SIMS working curves based on measurement of 14 N + and 14 N 16 O - as a function of N content determined by EPMA (or laser extraction) are best fit with exponential functions rather than the linear regressions that are most commonly applied to SIMS data. On the other hand, the relationship based on 12 C 14 N - for C-poor, Fe-free glasses is exceptionally well fit to a linear regression (r 2 = 1, p < 0.001), in contrast to expectations from previous work on glasses with lower N contents. Matrix effects on the SIMS signals associated with Fe or H 2 O content are not justified by the data, but volatile data (both N and H) for hyalophane, which contains 20 wt% BaO, reveal matrix effects possibly induced by its high average molar mass. A combination of FTIR and chemical data, together with a thorough review of the literature, was used to determine incorporation mechanisms for N in the Fe-free glasses. We infer that under reducing conditions at high pressure and temperature N is dissolved in basaltic melts chiefly as NH2 and NH 2- , with N 2 and/or nitride (X-N 3- ) complexes 2 becoming increasingly important at low fO2, increasing N content, and decreasing H content. Our results have implications for future studies seeking to accurately measure N by SIMS and for studies of N partitioning at high pressure relevant to planetary accretion and differentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-46
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by NSF grants EAR-1426772, AST-1344133, and EAR-1322082. The National ASU SIMS facility is supported by NSF EAR-1352996. We gratefully acknowledge Lynda Williams and Margo Regier for assistance with SIMS at ASU and Yunbin Guan for assistance with SIMS at Caltech. The manuscript was improved by reviews from Michael Wiedenbeck, associate editor Adam Kent, and an anonymous referee. We also thank Andrew Locock for providing the hyalophane sample. This paper is dedicated to Erik Hauri, who was an inspirational geochemist and a pioneer in the use of SIMS for measuring volatile elements in geological materials.


  • EPMA
  • FTIR
  • SIMS
  • bonding
  • carbon
  • nitrogen
  • speciation

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