Sourcing obsidian: a new optimized LA-ICP-MS protocol

Marie Orange, François-Xavier Le Bourdonnec, Anja Scheffers & Renaud Joannes-Boyaugraphical-abstract-option-1

STAR: Science & Technology of Archaeological Research


Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry [LA-ICP-MS] is one of the most successful analytical techniques used in archaeological sciences. Applied to the sourcing of lithic raw materials, it allows for fast and reliable analysis of large assemblages. However, the majority of published studies omit important analytical issues commonly encountered with laser ablation. This research presents a new advanced LA-ICP-MS protocol developed at Southern Cross GeoScience (SOLARIS laboratory, Southern Cross University, Australia), which optimizes the potential of this cutting-edge geochemical characterization technique for obsidian sourcing. This new protocol uses ablation lines with a reduced number of assayed elements (specific isotopes) to achieve higher sensitivity as well as increased precision and accuracy, in contrast to previous studies working with ablation points and an exhaustive list of measured isotopes.
Applied to obsidian sources from the Western Mediterranean region, the Carpathian basin, and the Aegean, the results clearly differentiate between the main outcrops, thus demonstrating the efficiency of the new advanced LA-ICP-MS protocol in answering fundamental archaeological questions.


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