In this work, laser induced breakdown spectroscopy (LIBS) is used to investigate soil samples collected from different desert areas of Riyadh city in Saudi Arabia. Both qualitative analysis and plasma parameters are studied via the observed LIBS spectra. These experiments have been done using a Spectrolaser-7000 system with 50 mJ fundamental wavelength of Nd:YAG laser and detection delay time of 1 microsecond. Many spectral lines are highly resolved for many elements like Al, Fe, Mg, Si, Mn, Na, Ca and K. The electron temperatures Te and electron densities Ne, for the constituent of generated LIBS plasma, are determined for all the collected samples. It is found that both Te and Ne vary from one desert area to other. This variation is due to the change of the elemental concentration in different desert areas that affects the sample's matrices. Time dependent measurements have also been performed on the soil samples. While the signal-to-base ratio (SBR) reached its optimal value at 1 microsecond, the plasma parameters Ne and Te reach values of <TEX>$4{\times}10^{17}cm^{-3}$</TEX> and 9235 K, respectively, at 2.5 microsecond. The later indicate that the plasma cooling processes are slow in comparison to the previously observed results for metallic samples. The observed results show also that in the future it is possible to enhance the exploitation of LIBS in the remote on-line environmental monitoring application, by following up only the values of Ne and Te for one element of the soil desert sample using an optical fiber probe.

© 2013 Optical Society of Korea

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