LA-ICP-MS Laboratory

The ICP-MS Laboratory uses quadrupole ICP-MS to perform semi-quantitative or quantitative analysis to determine the concentration of various trace and minor elements ranging from Li to U. Analyses are routinely carried out on almost any solid inorganic material. The routines of the laboratory have been developed with a focus on natural science applications and through continued research and development resulted in a unique expertise in the analysis of natural materials.

The main purpose of the facility is to:

  • offer researchers, companies, consultants, students and organizations chemical analyses to be used in science or for industrial purposes.
  • contribute to scientific and applied research by producing robust and good quality analyses
  • offer our analytical expertise tailored to the natural sciences.
  • improve and develop new methods for the application of quadrupole ICP-MS analysis to scientific and applied research.


Analyses performed on a routine basis

The laboratory offers quantitative as well as semi-quantitative ('fingerprinting') analyses, viz:

  • Semi-Quantitative analysis (PerkinElmer TotalQuant), measuring the following elements:
    Ag, Al, As, Au, B, Ba, Be, Bi, Ca, Cd, Ce, Cl, Co, Cr, Cs, Cu, Dy, Er, Eu, Fe, Ga, Gd, Ge, Hf, Hg, Ho, In, Ir, K, La, Li, Lu, Mg, Mn, Mo, Na, Nb, Nd, Ni, Os, P, Pb, Pd, Pr, Pt, Rb, Re, Rh, Ru, S, Sb, Sc, Se, Si, Sm, Sn, Sr, Ta, Tb, Te, Th, Ti, Tl, Tm, U, V, W, Y, Yb, Zn, Zr.
    This method is typically used for water sample analysis, and for 'fingerprinting' solid material samples e.g. prior to a more robust element quantification.
  • Quantitative trace element analysis, measuring the following elements:
    Mg, Al, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, Pb, Th, U.
    Typically, the method is used on rock, soil or mineral samples for a robust quantification of element concentrations.
  •  Arsenic (As) quantitative analysis, measuring the following elements:
    As, Mn, Fe, Ca, Mg 
    The method is regularly used for analysis of water samples.

Custom and additional types of analyses can be performed on request. We are always willing to discuss how we can help to develop new or improved analytical methods.


Quality control (QA/QC) of the analyses

Performance tests are one of the most efficient ways for an analytical laboratory to monitor the quality of the analyses being performed. Since the installation of the ICP-MS facility in 1999, the laboratory has participated in IAG's proficiency test program (GeoPT), and has continuously produced accurate and robust results. Approximately 110 analytical laboratories from around the world contribute to this proficiency test program. The biannual performance tests of the GeoPT program are designed to be an external quality control performed on a regular basis for the analysis of various geological materials, which include a wide range of natural and commercial materials.


Key Instruments and associated facilities

Analyses are performed by a PerkinElmer Elan 6100DRC quadrupole ICP-MS that is coupled to an AS-91 auto-sampler. 

Key instrument capabilities:

  • Quantitative analyses of most of the elements in the range from 7Li to 238U.
  • Determination of most elements at ppm level. Depending on the method used, certain elements can be measured at ppb level.
  • Detection limits at ppb to low ppm level.
  • Pt cones are routinely used.

Decomposition by hydrofluoric acid: a routine procedure in the laboratory to dissolve solid inorganic materials prior to analysis.

Borate melting: The laboratory has equipment for the preparation of borate discs (fused bead) used for the dissolution of difficult samples, e.g. zircon or-, chromite prior to trace element ICP-MS analysis. 

Loss on ignition: If the samples include a large proportion of organic material, the laboratory offers the possibility to measure the loss of ignition prior to the determination of element concentrations by ICP-MS analysis.

Sample preparation: If required for the ICP-MS analyses, the laboratory can perform fine crushing, grinding or other kinds of sample preparation prior to ICP-MS analysis. This is carried out through our well-equipped Sample Preparation Laboratories.


Sample preparation - typical requirements

  • For solutions, usually a 5-10 ml sample, preferably preserved by nitric acid. A typical ratio for a solution is 1 ml of concentrated nitric acid per 100 ml sample.
  • For solid samples, normally 5-10 gram of fine (i.e. grains size < 100µm) material is used.
  • We have no special demands regarding the packaging used for storage of the materials that are to be analyzed.

Prices and access to the laboratory

Please contact the Chief technician or Laboratory manager for further information.

The work in the laboratory includes strong acids (hydrofluoric acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid) following standardized protocols, which are carried out by our experienced laboratory staff. Thus, for safety-related reasons, we allow only restricted access to the facilities and according to arrangement with the laboratory staff members.



Department of Petrology and Economic Geology, rooms 2-333, 2-335, 2-339.

Sample Preparation Laboratories.


Our present and former project collaborators

  • University of Copenhagen, Department of Geosciences and Natural Resource Management (IGN)
  • University of Copenhagen, Department of Biology
  • Natural History Museum of Denmark
  • Aarhus University, Department of Geoscience
  • Museum Nordsjælland
  • National Museum of Denmark

The publications listed below are an incomplete record of examples where the ICP-MS Laboratory has contributed with analyses and reporting on collaborative projects:
Trace element analysis, Sediments and Solid (crystalline) rocks.