Analysis of Geological Materials Using Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)

Lay Summary 

The continuing goal of my research is to develop to the utmost, the capabilities of Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) for the analysis of geological samples. The emphasis is on solid materials from the geosphere, but samples from the hydrosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere, which reflect their association with the solid earth and thus contain trace elements, which reflect the environment, are included. The integration of ICP-MS with other important geoanalytical methods including especially thermal ionization-mass spectrometry (TI-MS) and X-ray fluorescence (XRF) will continue with the goal of developing cost effective, precise, and accurate analyses. That "no method is a panacea" is a guiding principle of my work.

My goal is to develop methods to determine all of the naturally occurring elements of the periodic table at the concentrations that they are found in real samples. ICP-MS along with XRF procedures currently in place at Memorial University approach this goal, but there are analytes for which additional work is required. Geoanalytical Chemistry provides the elemental concentrations and isotopic signatures on which applications of fundamental geology, and more applied exploration and environmental studies depend. It is one of the fundamental areas of research upon which a significant portion of geology development depends. Projects are proposed in the area of elemental analysis and isotope ratio determination. The precision and accuracy of the procedures for the determination of elements will be improved. The important analytical difficulties and challenges of incomplete sample dissolution, loss of analyte during and after digestion, interferences, matrix effects, and memory, which affect the quality of results, will continue to be studied. Laser Ablation Microprobe is a technique for the microsampling of a few cubic µm volumes of mineral phases directly from solid samples. As with whole rock, biological, and water samples, fundamental understanding of the ablation process will continue to be researched while applications are being explored.

Earth Sciences
St. John's
Newfoundland and Labrador
Earth Sciences
Industry Sectors 
Scientific Research and Development Services
Start date 
1 Jan 2010
End date 
31 Dec 2015