High-frequency throughput is often needed in isotopic studies in biological and medical fields. Here we report that high-precision oxygen isotope ratio measurements of water (+/-0.13 per thousand) were rapidly and routinely made on small samples (40-100 microL) using an isotope ratio mass spectrometer operated in continuous-flow mode. Simple modifications to existing instrumentation allow for rapid manual analyses of dilute CO2 (10% CO2/90% N2), including the addition of a septum port and water trap prior to the gas chromatography (GC) column (elemental analyzer column in this study) and the extension of fused-silica capillary tubing between the mass spectrometer source and the effluent tubing from the GC column (located within the CONFLO unit on Finnigan mass spectrometers). We routinely analyzed 20 small-volume samples per hour using this technique, without sacrificing precision of the oxygen isotope ratio measurement.
Copyright 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.