Pitcairn, I.K., Warwick, P.E., Milton, J.A. and Teagle, D.A.H.
Method for ultra-low-level analysis of gold in rocks.
Analytical Chemistry, 78, (4), . (doi:10.1021/ac051861z).
A new method for analyzing gold at ultralow concentrations (<10 pg/g) in geological samples has been developed involving HF-aqua regia acid digestion, chromatographic separation of Au from matrix elements using DIBK supported on an inert resin, and analysis by inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICPMS). This method has an analytical detection limit of 2 parts per trillion (pg/g), significantly lower than most routinely used methods developed for analysis of ore samples with Au concentrations considerably higher than average crustal abundance (~2 ng/g). Such methods commonly have detection limits in the low nanogram per gram range. Many areas of geological research including ore genesis, crustal mobility and redistribution, planetary differentiation, and plume volcanism require quantitative analysis of geological materials with much lower Au concentrations. We present a rapid, easy to use method where Au is separated from matrix elements onto extractant primed chromatographic resin and analyzed by quadrupole ICPMS. The method is suitable for the relatively rapid analysis of a large number of samples and is reliable over a wide range of concentrations from picogram to microgram per gram level. Analysis of four different geostandards, GXR1, GXR4, CH-3, and SARM 7, yields concentrations within error of the published concentrations with accuracies of >95%.
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