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Element Analysis Facility

Element Analysis FacilityThe Element Analysis Facility was funded by an award from the Joint Infrastructure Fund (JIF), and was set up in the summer of 2002. It comprises:

  • An Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) for solution analysis
  • A Laser Ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICPMS)
  • An Inductively-Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES)
  • Atomic Fluorescence
  • A Micro-analytical laboratory

The two ICP-MS machines are both ThermoElemental X-series. They were chosen for their low detection limits (typically in the ppb and ppt range) and high sensitivity.

Solution ICP-MS

The Solution ICP-MS is equipped with a Cetac AS-500 autosampler for high sample throughput. It can be run with or without a Collision Cell (CCT), a method of breaking down complex species such as ArO which might otherwise interfere with elements of interest. The equipment analyses natural waters and dissolved solid material such as rocks for a wide range of minor and trace elements.

Laser Abiation ICP-MS

The Laser Ablation ICP-MS is coupled to a Merchanek 213nm UV laser for laser ablation analysis of solid samples. This allows in-situ analysis of a wide range of geological (and other) materials, including volcanic glass and melt inclusions, minerals, metals, alloys, polymers and ceramics.


The ICP-OES is the JY Horiba Ultima-2. It utilises emission spectrometry and is a multi-element analysis technique, typically allowing for the detection of most elements at concentrations ranging from a few ppb to 100's of ppm. It is therefore a highly versatile technique for analysing major elements in rocks and in environmental samples such as water and soils, where metal concentrations may be above the tolerable range for ICP-MS. The spectrometer is fitted with an autosampler for large sample throughput.

Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometers

The laboratory has two Atomic Fluorescence Spectrometers. They are used for analysis of volatile metals in natural waters and other fluids. The laboratory is equipped with a PS Analytical Merlin system for analysis of ultra-trace (ppb-ppt) concentrations of mercury, and a PS Analytical Excaliber metal hydride system for analysis of arsenic, antimony, selenium, tellurium and bismuth. The spectrometers are linked to an autosampler.


The micro-analysis laboratory comprises a Merchantek MicroMill and microbalance. The MicroMill is a microsampling device designed for high resolution milling to recover sample powders for chemical and isotopic analysis. Typical applications include the sampling of minerals or sections of coral for dissolution and analysis by ICP-MS.

Contact Information

Dr Iain McDonald
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 77302

Professor Julian Pearce
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 75124