Geochemical Applications of Commonly-Analyzed Elements

This page is designed to enable explorationists to make the best use of the analyses in a multielement package of the kind offered by many commercial geochemical labs, and to know the limitations of such analyses.

A few important pathfinder elements described here are not included in such packages, or their detection limits are impractically high. The page is not intended as a comprehensive guide to the geochemical applications of all the elements in the periodic table. Certain economically or environmentally important elements (e.g. Pt, Sn, Hg) are not readily analyzed, at typical concentration levels, either by ICP or INAA, though most geochemical labs offer analyses of acceptable accuracy, precision and detection limit at much higher per-element rates. The labs should be contacted directly for fee schedules or quotes.

A typical multielement package, whether derived from induction-coupled plasma spectrometry (ICP) or instrumental neutron-activation analysis (INAA), or both, will probably contain analyses of some ore elements (e.g. Au, Cu, Pb, Zn) and pathfinder elements (e.g As, Sb, Mo, W). It may also contain elements that if interpreted with care, can assist in geological mapping in areas of poor exposure or where geological maps are inadequate or absent (e.g. Ni, Cr, K, rare-earth elements), and elements that act as monitors of surficial processes (Br, partial/total ratios of Fe, Co etc.).

To each of the "element" pages I hope eventually to add examples of multielement packages that include them, offered by commercial labs around the world. It will be difficult to make this list comprehensive but if someone representing such a lab reads this and would like to email me with appropriate information, I'll be glad to include it.

19 January 2000

Elements Indexed by Periodic Table
Elements Indexed by Atomic Number
Elements Indexed Alphabetically by Symbol
Elements Indexed Alphabetically by Name

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