Development of Iron Speciation Reference Materials for Palaeoredox Analysis

Lewis J. Alcott, Alexander J. Krause, Emma U. Hammarlund, Christian J. Bjerrum, Florian Scholz, Yijun Xiong, Andrew J. Hobson, Lesley Neve, Benjamin J.W. Mills, Christian März, Bernhard Schnetger, Andrey Bekker, Simon W. Poulton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development and application of geochemical techniques to identify redox conditions in modern and ancient aquatic environments has intensified over recent years. Iron (Fe) speciation has emerged as one of the most widely used procedures to distinguish different redox regimes in both the water column and sediments, and is the main technique used to identify oxic, ferruginous (anoxic, Fe(II) containing) and euxinic (anoxic, sulfidic) water column conditions. However, an international sediment reference material has never been developed. This has led to concern over the consistency of results published by the many laboratories that now utilise the technique. Here, we report an interlaboratory comparison of four Fe speciation reference materials for palaeoredox analysis, which span a range of compositions and reflect deposition under different redox conditions. We provide an update of extraction techniques used in Fe speciation and assess the effects of both test portion mass, and the use of different analytical procedures, on the quantification of different Fe fractions in sedimentary rocks. While atomic absorption spectroscopy and inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectrometry produced comparable Fe measurements for all extraction stages, the use of ferrozine consistently underestimated Fe in the extraction step targeting mixed ferrous–ferric minerals such as magnetite. We therefore suggest that the use of ferrozine is discontinued for this Fe pool. Finally, we report the combined data of four independent Fe speciation laboratories to characterise the Fe speciation composition of the reference materials. These reference materials are available to the community to provide an essential validation of in-house Fe speciation measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-591
Number of pages11
JournalGeostandards and Geoanalytical Research
Issue number3
Early online date2020 May 26
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Sept

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Geology

Free keywords

  • ancient sediments
  • iron speciation
  • reference materials
  • sequential extraction
  • total iron
  • water column redox


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