Towards the development of a fossil bone geochemical standard: An inter-laboratory study

V. Chavagnac*, J. A. Milton, D. R.H. Green, J. Breuer, O. Bruguier, D. E. Jacob, T. Jong, G. D. Kamenov, J. Le Huray, Y. Liu, M. R. Palmer, S. Pourtalès, I. Roduhskin, A. Soldati, C. N. Trueman, H. Yuan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Ten international laboratories participated in an inter-laboratory comparison of a fossil bone composite with the objective of producing a matrix and structure-matched reference material for studies of the bio-mineralization of ancient fossil bone. We report the major and trace element compositions of the fossil bone composite, using in-situ method as well as various wet chemical digestion techniques. For major element concentrations, the intra-laboratory analytical precision (%RSDr) ranges from 7 to 18%, with higher percentages for Ti and K. The %RSDr are smaller than the inter-laboratory analytical precision (%RSDR; <15-30%). Trace element concentrations vary by ∼5 orders of magnitude (0.1 mg kg-1 for Th to 10,000 mg kg-1 for Ba). The intra-laboratory analytical precision %RSDr varies between 8 and 45%. The reproducibility values (%RSDR) range from 13 to <50%, although extreme value >100% was found for the high field strength elements (Hf, Th, Zr, Nb). The rare earth element (REE) concentrations, which vary over 3 orders of magnitude, have %RSDr and %RSDR values at 8-15% and 20-32%, respectively. However, the REE patterns (which are very important for paleo-environmental, taphonomic and paleo-oceanographic analyses) are much more consistent. These data suggest that the complex and unpredictable nature of the mineralogical and chemical composition of fossil bone makes it difficult to set-up and calibrate analytical instruments using conventional standards, and may result in non-spectral matrix effects. We propose an analytical protocol that can be employed in future inter-laboratory studies to produce a certified fossil bone geochemical standard.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)177-190
Number of pages14
JournalAnalytica Chimica Acta
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sep 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogenic phosphate
  • Chemical composition
  • Fossil bone/tooth
  • Reference material


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