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Element analysis

We conduct geochemical research and commercial analysis on water, sediment, soil and rock samples.

The LA-ICPMS and micromill allow in-situ micro-sampling of solid samples (e.g. minerals, ceramics, alloys, shell or plant sections, etc).

Our element analysis facility comprises:

  • Thermo X Series 2 Inductively-Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (ICP-MS) for solution analysis
  • ESI P213 Laser Ablation and system and Thermo X Series 2 ICP-MS (LA-ICPMS)
  • Inductively-Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer (ICP-OES)
  • PSA Merlin and Excalibur Atomic Fluorescence spectrometers
  • ESI Micromill and Sartorius microbalance
  • Olympus hand-held x-ray fluorescence system (XRF)

How it's helped

We routinely carry out whole rock analysis for 10 major elements and up to 45 trace elements using ICP-OES and ICP-MS for clients in the oil and minerals sectors. For example, these analyses are used in chemostratigraphy for hydrocarbon exploration where drill core or drilling cuttings from different oil wells are used to help correlation between well and across sedimentary basins where biostratigraphical correlation is limited or impossible. Similar techniques have been applied to provenance studies aiming to determine the source(s) and exchange routes for archaeological materials such as ceramics and glass.

In-situ analysis by LA-ICPMS is used to measure trace elements in sulphide, oxide and silicate minerals and archaeological glass samples. Glass analyses are used for studies of provenance and to understand the technology used to make early medieval coloured glass. Trace element analyses of minerals are used in oil exploration for provenance studies on sedimentary basins and in the minerals industry to understand the mineralogy and geometallurgy of mineral deposits.


Dr Iain McDonald

Dr Iain McDonald


+44 (0)29 2087 4295