Earth and Environment

Geochemical analysis


Further information

Laboratory contact:

Mr Michael Smirk

UWA's Earth and Environment Analysis Laboratory (EEAL) provides facilities and technicians to prepare and analyse soil, sediment or rock materials for a range of elements.

Details of analytical facilities instrumentation are available online 


Our qualified team of technical staff are available to consult on your analysis requirements to ensure methodologies chosen are appropriate for sample type and the highest quality results can be generated for your data set. EEAL uses rigorous quality control systems within each batch of analyses to ensure on-going high quality of test results.

Multi-element analysis

At EEAL we specialise in sample preparation and digestion techniques that allow for both partial and full extraction of mineral phases present in your samples.

Extracted solutions are subsequently measured by our expert technical team using Perkin Elmer 5300DV Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission Spectrometer or Perkin Elmer Elan 6000 Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer dependent upon analytical requirements.

X-Ray Fluorescence and Diffraction

EEAL has a dedicated furnace for the preparation of glass bead samples for XRF analysis using our Philips PW1404 X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometer. We also use a Philips PW 1830 X-Ray Diffractometer for identification of crystalline mineral phases within samples.

Graphite Furnace AAS (Au)

EEAL can measure low levels of gold in extracts using a solvent based protocol.  Gold pre-concentrations is effected by solvent extraction, thus allowing for very high sensitivity of gold determination. Solvent extractions are measured using the Varian SpectrAA220 Zeeman Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption Spectrometer.


Total dissolution of sample material is achieved by high temperature fusion with lithium metaborate/tetraborate flux to form a solid glass. The glass is dissolved in dilute acid prior to measurement using either ICP-OES or ICP-MS; dependent upon the required element suite. The fusion technique will yield total element concentrations for elements stated in price list.

Aqua-Regia Digest

A commonly used digestion procedure using a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids. An aqua-regia digestion is useful for many environmental applications where contaminant sources to be measured are non-silicate in their nature. Silicate minerals and other refractory minerals are not dissolved using an aqua-regia digestion, however this application is useful for dissolving base metal sulphides, sulphates, oxides and carbonates minerals.

Partial extractants

Specific reagents are used to solubilise particular mineral phases present in samples for subsequent instrumental analyses using the appropriate technique for the element and expected concentration range. This can be from an exchangeable phase to release electrostatically held ions to other reagents that will dissolve a particular mineral phase. Application of multi-elemental techniques to such extractions enable us to determine elements which may be incorporated into the structure of the mineral phase in question.

Some examples are:

  • Ammonium acetate – exchangeable cations
  • Acid oxalate reagent – poorly crystalline minerals
  • Pyrophosphate reagent – organic matter complexes of Al and Fe
  • Citrate dithionite – secondary iron oxides and hydroxides
  • Hydroxylamine hydrochloride – crystalline iron oxides
  • Reagents can also be used in a sequential manner to progressively dissolve the different phases within a sample.

Technicians and training

Our technicians are available to prepare and analyse your samples or to train approved new users to learn sample preparation, digestion/dissolution and analysis techniques.

Price list and request form

Contact us to discuss your analytical requirements, element options and their detection limits.