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Trace metal & isotope geochemistry laboratory

What analyses can we do?

Our analyses include:

  • Total Hg in solid samples (biological materials or sediment/soil) using DMA.
  • Total concentrations of >60 elements* in biological material, sediment/soil** and freshwater using Q-ICP-MS.
  • Total I and Br in seaweed using Q-ICP-MS.
  • Total V, Mn, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ag, Cd, Pb and U in seawater using Q-ICP-MS.
  • Precise isotope composition of Hg, Pb among others using MC-ICP-MS.

The laboratory consistently uses blank samples, duplicate samples and analyses of Certified Reference Materials along with the samples for quality assessment and control.  

Our expenses associated with the analyses (and therefore the price for the task) depend on factors such as sample type/required pre-treatment, number of samples, analytical parameters and method.

Who are we?

We are a laboratory unit at Department of Ecoscience (ECOS) at Aarhus University in Roskilde, Denmark, specialized in analyses of trace elements (mostly metals) and isotopes in environmental samples.

The laboratory is ISO 17025 accredited by the Danish Accreditation Fund DANAK (Accreditation no. 411). The accreditation includes trace element analyses of biological material, sediment/soil, freshwater and seawater. As part of the requirements for the accreditation, the laboratory participates twice a year in the European laboratory proficiency test program QUASIMEME and is subject to regular internal and external audits. The accreditation ensures compliance with the highest analytical standards and is a requirement for the laboratory’s analytical tasks for the Danish National Monitoring and Assessment Programme for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment (NOVANA), the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) under the Arctic Council and environmental monitoring and inspections at mine sites in Greenland for the Greenland Authorities.

The laboratory tasks include both tasks for the Danish and Greenland authorities and research tasks, both internal at Aarhus University and external. The laboratory has many years of experience with analyses of a broad range of environmental samples and results have been used in numerous peer-review journal publications, scientific reports and national and international assessments. A selection of the publications can be seen here.

Who should I contact?

For more information, please contact Head of ECOS Trace metal and isotope geochemistry:

Jens Søndergaard

Senior Researcher Department of Ecoscience - Arctic Environment

*) Which elements can we analyse?

We can analyse for the following elements in a standard Q-ICP-MS scan:

  • Li, Be, Na, Mg, Al, P, K, Ca, Sc, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Cu, Zn, Ga, As, Se, Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Mo, Ru, Pd, Ag, Cd, Sb, Te, Cs, Ba, La, Ce, Pr, Nd, Sm, Eu, Gd, Tb, Dy, Ho, Er, Tm, Yb, Lu, Hf, Ta, W, Re, Pt, Au, Hg, Tl, Pb, Bi, Th and U.

The elements Ge, In, Rh and Ir are used as intern standards and can therefore not be analyzed for in the samples.

**) Which digestions of biota and sediment/soil can we do?

For digestion of biological material, we typically apply microwave oven digestion in half-concentrated nitric acid using our Anton Paar Multiwave 7000 oven following the DS 259 standard. For sediment/soil, we can conduct three different digestion methods depending on aim and application of the analyses: DS 259 (half-concentrated nitric acid in microwave oven), EPA 3051A (inverse aqua regia in microwave oven) og total digestion (hydrofluoric acid/hydrochloric acid/nitric acid in Berghof vessels in heat cabinet).

Which instruments and facilities do we have?

Our instruments and facilities include:

  • Freeze driers, ball mills (Retsch PM100 and MM400) and heating cabinets for sample pre-treatment.
  • Laminar Air Flow (LAF) benches for clean handling of samples and solutions (Class 100/ISO 5 or better).
  • Anton Paar Multiwave 7000 microwave oven for effective acid digestion of samples (up to 300 °C and 199 bar pressure).
  • Milestone Direct Mercury Analyzer (DMA-80).
  • Agilent 7900 Quadrupole Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (Q-ICP-MS) with UHMI and ISIS-3 units.
  • Thermo Neptune XT Multi Collector Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometer (MC-ICP-MS) with Cetac HGX-200 hydride generator and Cetac Aridus 3 desolvation nebulizer.