The determination of the chemical composition of meimechites which are unique and rarely occurring ultra-high MgO igneous rocks can be complicated due to their porphyric structure, the presence of acid-insoluble minerals, and wide variation of major and trace element contents. In the present study the optimal analytical strategy based on a combination of X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) methods was suggested for the determination of the elemental composition of meimechites. The preparation of glass beads using a lithium tetraborate and metaborate mixture proved to be suitable for the XRF determination of major oxides.

A comparative study of the sample decomposition procedures for the determination of trace elements by ICP-MS clearly showed that fusion with lithium metaborate was the most appropriate sample preparation technique for complete digestion of meimechites. The open beaker HF-HNO3-HClO4 acid digestion was insufficient because the results for Nb, Ta, V, Zr, Cr and Hf were underestimated by 20–80% compared to those determined using the fusion method due to the presence in the rock samples of acid-resistant accessory minerals. It is shown that using analytical data from acid digestion may lead to erroneous interpretation of geochemical data.

Supplementary material: Comparing the results obtained by ‘wet chemistry’ and XRF methods; ICP-MS data for meimechite samples; ICP-MS analysis of reference materials are available at …

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