lead isotope analysis

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The measurement of stable isotopes of lead using a mass spectrometer in order to characterize particular samples and associate them with known lead sources. Four isotopes are commonly used—206Pb, 207Pb, 208Pb, and 204Pb—the first three of which are the ultimate decay products of the radioactive series associated with 238U, 235U, and 232Th respectively, and will therefore vary considerably in their concentration according to the geological age of the lead ores. The main lead sources in Greece, England, and Spain, for example, can each be distinguished from one another on the basis of their isotopic ratios.

Subjects: Archaeology.

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