Geoanalytical Research Chemistry
Many projects within the USGS use chemical analyses as a tool in the study of various earth, ecological, and biological processes and features. Often, the success of these projects is dependent upon the availability of modern, rapid, multi-element analytical instruments and techniques that are beyond the scope and capability of most individual projects. The Geoanalytical Research Chemistry Project (GRC) provides access to state-of-the-art chemical analysis instrumentation and software, as well as the expertise of highly experienced research scientists to help solve unusually difficult problems in the field of analytical geochemistry that cannot be addressed by the routine methods of even the best commercial laboratories.
As needs are identified for which routine methods currently do not exist, scientists from GRC conceptualize, develop, test, and validate new analytical techniques to provide high quality analytical data to USGS researchers in these programmatic areas. For existing in-house methodologies, GRC staff members provide the necessary expertise necessary for continuous improvement, ensuring high-quality data. The scientists in GRC have expertise in the areas of elemental analysis using a variety of techniques, including Inductively Coupled Plasma Atomic Emission Spectrometry (ICP-AES), Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), Atomic Absorption Spectrometry (AAS), Xray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF), Ion Chromatography (IC), preparation of various types of environmental and geochemical samples, including water, rocks, minerals, and soils, and direct analysis of solids using techniques such as Laser Ablation and X-ray Fluorescence.
Scientists from GRC also routinely work with and provide analyses for other USGS laboratories in order to share expertise and or access to instrumentation and techniques not available in these sister laboratories. Scientists from GRC are well known in the global analytical community for their expertise and are often called upon by other agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others to provide information and in some cases chemical analyses.
The objectives of the Geoanalytical Research Chemistry Project are fivefold:
- Develop new and emerging geoanalytical techniques needed to support USGS science goals and projects within the next five years,
- Maintain availability of geochemical analysis instrumentation, laboratories, and techniques for use by multiple projects within the Mineral Resources Program, Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center (CGGSC), Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center (CMERSC), Mineral Resources Program, and other supporting USGS Programs,
- Provide training and oversight to other scientists in the use and interpretation of geoanalytical data provided by GRC,
- Develop new geochemical standard reference materials that are used by USGS and other scientists to calibrate analytical instruments, validate models, and monitor laboratory performance, and
- Maintain a specialized in-house geochemical analysis capability for use in the characterization of difficult-to-analyze sample matrices that are beyond the capabilities of the contract laboratory, new reference materials, samples requiring specialized forms of analysis (such as speciation), and for use with outside funding agreement (OFA) projects providing support to other government agencies.
- New Geoanalytical Methods
- Geochemical Reference Materials
- Laser Ablation Trace Element and Micro Analysis
- Multicollector ICP-MS
- Spectroscopy and Human Health
- Rare-earth Geochemistry of Waste Water Systems
- Research Mineralogy
- Ruth Wolf
- Paul Lamothe
Associate Project Chief
- Stephen Wilson
Associate Project Chief