Hand-held X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
Exploration Technique: Hand-held X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
|Exploration Technique Information|
|Exploration Group:||Field Techniques|
|Exploration Sub Group:||Data Collection and Mapping|
|Parent Exploration Technique:||Data Collection and Mapping|
|Information Provided by Technique|
|Lithology:||Bulk and trace element analysis of rocks, minerals, and sediments.|
- "X-Ray Fluorescence is a (relatively) non-destructive bulk chemical analysis technique routinely applied to rock, minerals, sediments, and fluids. Traditional lab-based XRF analysis is one of the most commonly used methods for measurement of major and trace elements. The first hand-held XRF analyzer was commercially released in 1994, allowing for these analyses to be performed rapidly in the field. Hand-held XRF devices have since seen widespread use in mining/mineral exploration for ore grade control and mapping, in the metals industry for scrap sorting, and in environmental studies for hazardous materials identification, to name a few. Devices are intuitive and easy to use, generally resembling a gun that is placed in contact with the material of interest. XRF analysis is performed by pulling a trigger, and is typically completed within a few seconds. [[File:DELTA_XRF.jpg|thumb|500px|center|Photo showing the DELTA Handheld XRF analyzer (and operator). Photo from the Olympus Corporation merchant website.'"`UNIQ--ref-00000001-QINU`"'" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.
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- "Portable XRF analysis depends on the fundamental principles of electron beam and x-ray interactions with solid materials, similar to other analytical techniques.'"`UNIQ--ref-00000002-QINU`"' Other techniques that operate on these principles include X-Ray Spectroscopy (through Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX)) and Wavelength Dispersive Spectroscopy (WDS) typically performed using a SEM or EPMA, and X-Ray Diffraction (XRD) analyses.
- Data Collection and Mapping
- Rock Lab Analysis
- Data Collection and Mapping
EDX spectrometers are used in portable XRF devices because of their smaller size and simpler design compared to the WDS spectrometers used in laboratory instruments. Miniature X-ray tubes or gamma ray sources can also be used with EDX spectrometers, making them cheaper and allowing for miniaturization that enhances portability (most commercial handheld XRF devices weigh less than 2 kg). Despite these advantages, XRF devices that utilize EDX spectrometers are less accurate than laboratory XRF analyzers, due to their lower resolution and problems with lower count rates and long dead-times. This being the case, laboratory XRF instruments should be used for high precision bulk elemental analysis.
Additional limitations of handheld XRF analysis include:
- The elements detectable by XRF analysis are typically limited to the range between Magnesium and Uranium for most commercially available instruments.
- Portable XRF devices utilize EDX spectrometers, which are less accurate than laboratory XRF instruments that use WDS spectrometers.
- XRF analysis cannot distinguish between isotopes of the same element, so additional analysis using other instruments is necessary if this type of data is desired.
- XRF analysis cannot distinguish ions of an element in different valence states (e.g. Fe2+ from Fe3+).
- Relatively large sample sizes are needed for analysis, usually in excess of 1 gram.
- DELTA Education & Research Handheld XRF Analyzer
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