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XRAYFLUORESCENCEBASICS(XRF)
Xrayfluorescence(XRF)istheemissionofcharacteristic"secondary"(or
fluorescent)Xraysfromamaterialthathasbeenexcitedbybombardingitwith
highenergyXraysorgammarays.Thephenomenoniswidelyusedforelemental
analysisofrocksandminerals.

Theworkisusuallydoneinalaboratoryalongwithotherpetrographic
assessments.Usedmostlytologcores,itcanalsobeusedonindividualrock
samples.Handheldandportablecoreloggingversionsareavailableforuseatthe
wellsite.

BecauseXRFcangivequantitativevaluesfortheelementsinarock,itisoften
usedtohelpevaluatetheresultsfromelementalcapturespectroscopy(ECS)logs.TheelementalcompositionfromXRF
inthelaborECSinthewellborecanbeinvertedtoamineralcompositionusingaleastsquaresinversionalgorithm.

XRFEnergyspectrumofamaterialshowingenergypeaksforspecificelementsinthesample.Therelativeamplitudes
indicatetherelativeconcentrationofeachelementinthematerial.Anonnegativeleastsquaresinversioncantransform
elementconcentrationsintomineralweightpercent.

Therangeofelementsthatcanbeobservedvarieswiththedesignoftheinstrument.Atypicalhandheldcanonly
recognizetheelementsbetweenMagnesiumandLithium,forexample.Afullscalelabmodelcanhandleallthewayto
Uranium.

XRAYFLUORESCENCEEXAMPLE
ExampleofanXRFlogtakenonacore(corephotoatleft).(image:WoodsHoleOceanographic)

HOWXRAYFLUORESCENCEWORKS
SourceWikipedia

WhenmaterialsareexposedtoshortwavelengthXraysortogammarays,ionizationoftheircomponentatomsmaytake
place.Ionizationconsistsoftheejectionofoneormoreelectronsfromtheatom,andmayoccuriftheatomisexposedto
radiationwithanenergygreaterthanitsionizationpotential.Xraysandgammarayscanbeenergeticenoughtoexpel
tightlyheldelectronsfromtheinnerorbitalsoftheatom.Theremovalofanelectroninthiswaymakestheelectronic
structureoftheatomunstable,andelectronsinhigherorbitals"fall"intothelowerorbitaltofilltheholeleftbehind.In
falling,energyisreleasedintheformofaphoton,theenergyofwhichisequaltotheenergydifferenceofthetwoorbitals
involved.Thus,thematerialemitsradiation,whichhasenergycharacteristicoftheatomspresent.Thetermfluorescence
isappliedtophenomenainwhichtheabsorptionofradiationofaspecificenergyresultsinthereemissionofradiationof
adifferentenergy(generallylower).

Eachelementhaselectronicorbitalsofcharacteristicenergy.Followingremovalofaninnerelectronbyanenergetic
photonprovidedbyaprimaryradiationsource,anelectronfromanoutershelldropsintoitsplace.Therearealimited
numberofwaysinwhichthiscanhappen.Themaintransitionsaregivennames:anLKtransitionistraditionallycalled
K,anMKtransitioniscalledK,anMLtransitioniscalledL,andsoon.Eachofthesetransitionsyieldsa
fluorescentphotonwithacharacteristicenergyequaltothedifferenceinenergyoftheinitialandfinalorbital.The
wavelengthofthisfluorescentradiationcanbecalculatedfromPlanck'sLaw:
1:Lambda=h*c/E
Where:
h=Planck'sconstant
c=speedoflightinavacuum
E=energydifference
Lambda=wavelengthofemittedphoton

Thefluorescentradiationcanbeanalyzedeitherbysortingthe
energiesofthephotons(energydispersiveanalysisorEDXRF)or
byseparatingthewavelengthsoftheradiation(wavelength
dispersiveanalysisorWDXRF).Thelattertechniqueisnolonger
inwidespreaduseastheadvancesincomputeranddetector
technologyfavourtheenergydispersivemethod.

Oncesorted,theintensityofeachcharacteristicradiationis
directlyrelatedtotheamountofeachelementinthematerial.

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