Lead isotopic composition of trinitite melt glass: evidence for the presence of Canadian industrial lead in the first atomic weapon test

Anal Chem. 2013 Aug 6;85(15):7588-93. doi: 10.1021/ac4016648. Epub 2013 Jul 12.


The Pb isotopic compositions for 51 spots of melt glass in 11 samples of trinitite have been determined by laser ablation multicollector inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-MC-ICP-MS). Trinitite glass yields a large range of Pb isotopic compositions (i.e., (206)Pb/(204)Pb = 17.08-19.04), which reflect mixing between industrial Pb from materials used in the Trinity test and natural geologic components. Areas within trinitite melt glass containing high concentrations of both Cu and Pb, which are derived from the bomb and blast site-related components, were used for delineating the Pb isotopic composition corresponding to the anthropogenic Pb component. Comparison between the isotopic composition estimated here for the industrial Pb used in the Trinity test and those from known Pb deposits worldwide indicates close agreement with ore from the Buchans mine (Newfoundland, Canada). The Buchans mine was active during the time of the Trinity test and was operated by the American Smelting and Refining Company, which could have provided the Pb used in the test. The industrial Pb used in the Trinity test materials is not documented in the literature (or declassified) but could have been present in bricks, solder, pigs, or some other anthropogenic component related to the experiment.