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Overview

Why is USGS doing this project?

The USGS Mineral Resources Program and other USGS scientists need specialized routine analysis in order to carry out their research.

geochemical samples
USGS National Geochemical Sample Archive in Denver, Colorado. Photograph by USGS.

What is this project going to do?

The Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center's Analytical Chemistry Project combines and coordinates the chemistry functions that are necessary for research and assessment projects to obtain specialized routine analyses. Our project is responsible for:

  • administering the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS); the system used to track samples and manage in-house and contract analytical data;
  • physically preparing samples submitted for analysis;
  • validating Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center (CMERSC) in-house analytical techniques;
  • monitoring contract chemistry data quality, validating contract chemistry analytical results, and disseminating analytical results to staff scientists;
  • maintaining and growing the National Geochemical Sample Archive.

Recurring efforts include:

  • offering a mechanism to prepare samples;
  • maintaining equipment and methods of analysis for in-house analytical chemistry work;
  • contracting routine chemical requests to an outside laboratory;
  • providing data quality control for both in-house and contract generated data.

Long term efforts include: continued support to the Mineral Resources Program and other USGS scientists by providing these services and the modification of analytical methods and/or administrative procedures to better meet the needs of the scientists.

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Sample and Data Management

Contacts: Jaime Azain, jsazain@usgs.gov, and David Fey, dfey@usgs.gov

We perform all the necessary functions relating to the receipt, processing, preparation, data tracking, quality control, and archiving of samples submitted for chemical analyses. These functions are performed for both in-house and contract laboratory analyses. Sample Control processes on average 15,000-20,000 samples annually.

Specific task objectives are as follows:

  • Maintain the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to track workflow through contract and in-house analytical laboratories and present final data in a format consistent for use in other databases.
  • Contract out routine analytical chemistry functions to an outside laboratory that is cost effective at the required quality limits.
  • Perform quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) function for all chemical analyses and maintain database for both contract and in-house chemistry.
  • Perform physical preparation of samples submitted for chemical analysis by sieving, disaggregating, crushing, grinding, and ashing prior to submission to contract and/or in-house laboratories.
  • Operate and maintain the USGS National Geochemical Sample Archive, inventory, and retrieval of previously analyzed powdered geochemical materials.

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Petrographic Laboratories

azurite-malachite intergrowths
Azurite-Malachite Intergrowths. Transmitted light micrograph, showing tabular crystals of azurite partially altered to green malachite around void areas. From USGS Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5211.

Contact: Rhonda Driscoll, rdriscoll@usgs.gov

We provide Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center and Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center scientists with the expertise, equipment, and methods needed to deconstruct rocks and enlarge understanding of geologic processes occurring at field, disaster, and prospect sites. We operate several laboratories including Rock Prep, Heavy Liquids, X-ray Diffraction, Magnetic Separation, General Chemistry, and Small Instruments.

Specific task objectives are as follows:

  • Examine, crush, grind, slab, sieve, and polish whole rock material
  • Separate and concentrate mineral constituents using water tables, heavy liquids, magnets, and microscopes
  • Identify and quantify minerals using staining methods and X-ray diffraction
  • Measure various physical properties of whole rock including density, magnetic susceptibility, and solubility
  • Develop new preparation methods as needed (emphasis on heavy mineral separation)
  • Train student interns in the use of preparation equipment, methods, and lab safety

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X-Ray Fluorescence Major Element Chemistry

Contact: Danielle Olinger, dolinger@usgs.gov

We provide high precision determinations of 11 major rock-forming elements as oxides in solid geologic materials using wavelength dispersive x-ray fluorescence (WDXRF). The accuracy achievable using the wavelength dispersive x-ray fluorescence technique for the determination of major elements as oxides is unsurpassed by any other instrumental technique. The percent relative standard deviation for major elements is typically within ±5%. Samples are prepared at our laboratory facility and analyzed using a Rigaku ZSX Primus II X-ray fluorescence instrument.

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In-House Chemistry Support Services

Contact: Cyrus Berry, cjberry@usgs.gov

We provide highly accurate and precise research-related single element analyses which include:

  • total carbon,
  • carbonate carbon,
  • organic carbon,
  • dissolved organic carbon,
  • total sulfur,
  • mercury,
  • arsenic, and
  • selenium.

In addition to housing the single element analytical capability we also provide common laboratory support services such as the purchase of liquefied and compressed gases, the maintenance and repair of laboratory instrumentation, and the purchase of laboratory supplies such as acids, solvents, glassware, etc.

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Contract Chemistry

Contact: Jaime Azain, jsazain@usgs.gov

On average, we submit 10,000 samples a year to our external contract laboratory for analysis. The contract laboratory analyzes USGS samples using a variety of 40 multi and single element analytical techniques. Most of the techniques used by the contract laboratory are similar to established USGS methods. In addition, the contract laboratory and the data it generates are monitored closely to ensure data quality meets established USGS criteria. We add blind quality control samples to all jobs submitted for contract chemistry at a rate of 10%. The analytical results are uploaded into our Laboratory Information Management System, validated, and delivered to the sample submitter in digital format.

We monitor the contract laboratory to ensure that all aspects of the contract are executed within the limits established in the statement of work and all performance criteria are met. We facilitate communication between the USGS and the contract laboratory to confer any issues or questions that arise. The intent of these discussions is to enhance data quality and improve laboratory efficiency.

We evaluate new analytical techniques for potential inclusion in the contract based on the needs of USGS Mineral Resources Program research and assessment projects.

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Products

Reports

Driscoll, Rhonda, 2007, From projectile points to microprocessors—The influence of some industrial minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Circular 1314, 26 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1314/.

Driscoll, Rhonda, Hageman, P.L., Benzel, W.M., Diehl, S.F., Adams, D.T., Morman, Suzette, and Choate, L.M., 2012, Assessment of the geoavailability of trace elements from minerals in mine wastes: analytical techniques and assessment of selected copper minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2011–5211, 68 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/sir/2011/5211/.

Driscoll, R.L., Hageman, P.L., Benzel, W.M., Diehl, S.F., Morman, Suzette, Choate, L.M., and Lowers, Heather, 2014, Assessment of the geoavailability of trace elements from selected zinc minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2013–1309, 78 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20131309.

Driscoll, Rhonda, and Leinz, Reinhard, 2005, Methods for Synthesis of Some Jarosites: U.S. Geological Survey Techniques and Methods 5–D1, 9 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/tm/2005/05D01/.

Strong, T.R., and Driscoll, R.L., 2016, A process for reducing rocks and concentrating heavy minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2016–1022, 16 p., http://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20161022.

Data Releases

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the Inmachuk, Kugruk, Kiwalik, and Koyuk River drainages, Granite Mountain, and the northern Darby Mountains, Bendeleben, Candle, Kotzebue, and Solomon quadrangles, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-4, 5 p., doi:10.14509/29448.

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the Haines area, Juneau and Skagway quadrangles, southeast Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-5, 5 p., doi:10.14509/29449.

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the Kougarok area, Bendeleben and Teller quadrangles, Seward Peninsula, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-6, 5 p., doi:10.14509/29450.

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the northeastern Alaska Range, Healy, Mount Hayes, Nabesna, and Tanacross quadrangles, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-7, 6 p., doi:10.14509/29451.

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the Tonsina area, Valdez Quadrangle, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-8, 5 p., doi:10.14509/29452.

Werdon, M.B., Granitto, Matthew, and Azain, J.S., 2015, Geochemical reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples from the Zane Hills, Hughes and Shungnak quadrangles, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2015-9, 5 p., doi:10.14509/29453.

Werdon, M.B., Azain, J.S., and Granitto, Matthew, 2014, Reanalysis of historical U.S. Geological Survey sediment samples for geochemical data from the western part of the Wrangellia terrane, Anchorage, Gulkana, Healy, Mt. Hayes, Nabesna, and Talkeetna Mountains quadrangles, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2014-5, 6 p., doi:10.14509/27287.

Abstracts

Bala, S.A., Holm-Denoma, C.S., Neymark, L.A., Taylor, C.D., Pietruszka, A.J., and Driscoll, R.L., 2014, U-Pb zircon ages and mineralogy of the Dora Bay instrusive complex and heavy REE-bearing pematite dikes: Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs. Vol. 46, No. 6, p. 782. View Bala GSA abstract.

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Project Contact

Jaime Azain
Phone: 303-236-9376
Email: jsazain@usgs.gov
Central Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center

Mineral Resources Program Science Priority

The use of firm, trade, and brand names is for identification purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by the U.S. government.

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