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.

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.

Purpose and Key Instruments and associated facilities

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

  • 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.

Preparation of borate discs
Preparation of borate discs.

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.

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.  


Scientific articles:

  • Storey, M., Pedersen, A. K., Stecher, O., Bernstein, S., Larsen, H. C., Larsen, L. M., Baker, J. & Duncan, R. A. 2004. Long-lived postbreakup magmatism along the East Greenland margin: Evidence for shallow-mantle metasomatism by the Iceland plume. Geology 32, 173-176.
  • Brandt FE, Holm PM, Søager N (2017) South to north pyroxenite-peridotite source variation correlated with an OIB to arc type enrichment of magmas from the Payenia backarc of the Andean Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ). Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology.
  • Holm PM, Søager N, Alfastsen M & Bertotto, GW (2016) Subduction zone mantle enrichment by fluids and Zr-depleted crustal melts as indicated by backarc basalts of the Southern Volcanic Zone, Argentina. Lithos 262, 135-152
  • Larsen, L.M., Pedersen, A.K., Tegner, C., Duncan, R.A., Hald, N. & Larsen, J.G. 2016. Age of Tertiary volcanic rocks on the West Greenland continental margin: volcanic evolution and event correlation to other parts of the North Atlantic Igneous Province. Geological Magazine 153 (3), 487?511. DOI: 10.1017/S0016756815000515.
  • Søager N, Portnyagin M, Hoernle K, Holm PM, Hauff F, Garbe-Schönberg D (2015) Olivine major and trace element compositions in southern Payénia basalts, Argentina: evidence for pyroxenite-peridotite melt mixing in a backarc setting. Journal of Petrology 56, 1456-1494.
  • Thórarinsson SB, Söderlund U, Døssing A, Holm PM, Ernst RE & Tegner C (2015) Rift magmatism on 1 the Eurasia basin margin: U?Pb baddeleyite ages of alkaline dyke swarms in North Greenland. Journal of the Geological Society of London. DOI:10.1144/jgs2015-049.
  • Søager N, Holm PM & Thirlwall MF (2015) Sr, Nd, Pb and Hf isotopic constraints on mantle sources and crustal contaminants in the Payenia volcanic province, Argentina. Lithos 212-215, 368-378.
  • Holm, P.M., Søager, N., Dyhr, C.T., Nielsen, M.R. (2014) Enrichments of the mantle sources beneath the Southern Volcanic Zone (Andes) by fluids and melts derived from abraded upper continental crust. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. DOI: 10,1007/s00410-014-1004-8.
  • Larsen, L.M., Pedersen, A.K., Tegner, C. & Duncan, R.A. 2014. Eocene to Miocene igneous activity in NE Greenland: northward younging of magmatism along the East Greenland margin. Journal of the Geological Society, London 171, 539?553.
  • Søager, N. Holm, P.M. (2013) Melt-peridotite reactions in upwelling EM1-type eclogite bodies: constraints from alkaline basalts in Payenia, Argentina. Chemical Geology 360-361, 204-219.
  • Dyhr, C.T., Holm, P.M., Llambías, E.J. (2013) Geochemical constraints on the relationship between the Miocene-Pliocene volcanism and tectonics in the Mendoza Region, Argentina; new insights from 40Ar/39Ar dating, Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes and trace elements. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 266, 50-68.
  • Dyhr, C.T, Holm, P.M., Llambías, E. J., Scherstén, A. (2013) Subduction controls on Miocene back-arc lavas from Sierra de Huantraico and La Matancilla, Argentina and new 40Ar/39Ar dating from the Mendoza Region. Lithos 179, 67-83.
  • Søager, N., Holm, P.M., Llambías, E.J. (2013) Payenia volcanic province, southern Mendoza, Argentina: A plume generated back-arc province? Chemical Geology 349-350, 36-53.
  • Larsen, L.M., Pedersen, A.K., Sørensen, E.V., Watt, W.S. & Duncan, R.A. 2013. Stratigraphy and age of the Eocene Igtertivâ Formation basalts, alkaline pebbles and sediments of the Kap Dalton Group in the graben at Kap Dalton, East Greenland. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 61, 1-18.
  • Thorarinsson SB, Holm PM, Huggler AaJ, Duprat HI, Tegner C (2012) Petrology and geochemistry of the Late Cretaceous continental ignimbrites, Kap Washington peninsula, North Greenland. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 219, 63-86.
  • Thorarinsson SB, Holm PM, Duprat, H, Tegner C (2011): Silicic magmatism associated with Late Cretaceousrifting in the Arctic Basin ? petrogenesis of the Kap Kane sequence, the Kap Washington Group volcanics, North Greenland. Lithos 125, 65-85.
  • Søager N, Holm PM (2011) Changing compositions in the Iceland plume; Isotopic and elemental constraints from the Paleogene Faroe flood basalts. Chemical Geology 280, 297-313.
  • Holm PM, Pedersen LE, Højsteen (2010) Geochemistry and petrology of mafic Proterozoic and Permian dykes on Bornholm, Denmark: Four episodes of magmatism on the margin of the Baltic Shield. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 58, 35-65.
  • Dyhr CT, Holm PM (2010) A volcanological and geochemical investigation of Boa Vista, Cape Verde Islands; 40Ar/39Ar geochronology and field constraints. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 189, 19-32.
  • Søager N & Holm PM (2009) Extended correlation of Paleogene Faroe Island and East Greenland plateau basalts. Lithos 107, 205-215.
  • Larsen, L.M. & Pedersen, A.K. 2009. Petrology of the Paleocene picrites and flood basalts on Disko and Nuussuaq, West Greenland. Journal of Petrology 50, 1667-1711.
  • Larsen, L.M., Heaman, L.M., Creaser, R.A., Duncan, A.R., Frei, R. & Hutchison, M. 2009. Tectonomagmatic events during stretching and basin formation in the Labrador Sea and the Davis Strait: evidence from age and composition of Mesozoic to Palaeogene dyke swarms in West Greenland. Journal of the Geological Society, London 166, 999?1012.
  • Holm PM, Grandvuinet T, Wilson JR, Friis J, Plesner S & Barker AK (2008) An 40 Ar- 39 Ar study of the Cape Verde hot spot: Temporal evolution in a semistationary plate environment. Journal of Geophysical Research, 113, B08201. DOI:10.1029/2007JB005339.
  • Duprat HI, Friis J, Holm PM, Grandvuinet T & Sørensen RV (2007) The volcanic and geochemical development of São Nicolau, Cape Verde Islands: Constraints from field and 40Ar/39Ar evidence. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 162, 1-19.
  • Holm PM, Wilson JR, Christensen BP, Hansen L, Hansen SL, Hein KM, Mortensen AK, Pedersen R, Plesner S & Runge M (2006) Sampling the Cape Verde Mantle Plume: Evolution of Melt Compositions on Santo Antão, Cape Verde Islands. Journal of Petrology 47, 145-189.
  • Pedersen, A. K. & Larsen, L. M. 2006. The Ilugissoq graphite andesite volcano, central Nuussuaq, West Greenland. Lithos 92, 1-19.
  • Dalhoff, F., Larsen, L.M., Ineson, J., Stouge, S., Bojesen-Koefoed, J. Lassen, S., Kuijpers, J., Rasmussen, J.A. and Nøhr-Hansen, H. 2006. Continental crust in the Davis Strait: new evidence from seabed sampling. Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland Bulletin 10, 33?36.
  • Schovsbo, N.H., 2003. Geochemical composition and provenance of Lower Palaeozoic shales deposited at the margins of Baltica. Bulletin of the Geological Society of Denmark 50, 11?27.
  • Larsen, L. M., Pedersen, A. K., Sundvoll, B. & Frei, R. 2003. Alkali picrites formed by melting of old metasomatised lithospheric mantle: Manîtdlat Member, Paleocene of West Greenland. Journal of Petrology 44, 3?38.
  • Larsen, L. M., Fitton, J. G. & Pedersen, A. K. 2003. Palaeogene volcanic ash layers in the Danish Basin: compositions and source areas in the North Atlantic Igneous Province. Lithos 71, 47?80.
  • Surlyk, F., Stemmerik, L., Ahlborn, M., Harlou, R., Lauridsen, B.W., Rasmussen, S.L., Schovsbo, N., Sheldon, E., Thibault, N., 2010. The cyclic Rørdal Member ? a new lithostratigraphic unit of chronostratigraphic and palaeoclimatic importance in the upper Maastrichtian of Denmark. Geological Society of Denmark Bulletin 58, 89?98.
  • Barker AK, Holm PM, Peate DW, Baker JA (2009) Geochemical stratigraphy of submarine lavas (3-5 Ma) from the Flamengos Valley, Santiago, Cape Verde. Journal of Petrology 50, 169-193.
  • Holm PM & Prægel N-O (2006) Cumulates from primitive rifting-related East Greeenland Paeleogene Magmas: the Ultramafic Complexes at Kælvegletscher and near Kærven. Lithos 92, 251-275
  • Prægel NO & Holm PM (2006) Lithospheric origin of high-MgO basanites from the Cumbre Vieja volcano, La Palma, Canary Islands and evidence for temporal variation in plume-source influence. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 149, 213-239.
  • Jørgensen JØ & Holm P M (2002) Temporal source variation and carbonatite contamination in primitive ocean island volcanics from Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands. Chemical Geology, 192, 249-267.

Scientific articles:

  • Postma, D.; Pham, T. K. H.; Sø, H. U.; Hoang, V. H.; Vi, M. L.; Nguyen, T. T.; Larsen, F.; Pham, H. V.; Jakobsen, R. A Model for the Evolution in Water Chemistry of an Arsenic Contaminated Aquifer over the Last 6000 Years, Red River Floodplain, Vietnam. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 2016, 195, 277-292.
  • Nguyen, T. H. M.; Postma, D.; Pham, T. K. T.; Jessen, S.; Pham, H. V.; Larsen, F. Adsorption and desorption of arsenic to aquifer sediment on the Red-River floodplain at Nam Du, Vietnam. Geochim. Cosmochim. Acta 2014, 142, 587?600.
  • Postma, D.; Larsen, F.; Thai, N. T.; Trang, P. T. K.; Jakobsen, R.; Nhan, P. Q.; Long, T. V.; Viet, P. H.; Murray, A. S. Groundwater Arsenic Concentrations in Vietnam Controlled by Sediment Age. Nat. Geosci. 2012, 5 (9), 656?661.

Scientific articles:

  • Hovmand MF, Rønn R, Kystol J (2017, in press) Energy wood combusted at two Danish Power Plants and evaluation of element concentrations in wood ash. Elsevier, Biomass and Bioenergy
  • Qin J, Hovmand MF, Ekelund F, Rønn R, Christensen S, Groot GAd, Mortensen LH, Skov S, Krogh PH (in press) Wood ash application increases pH but does not harm the soil mesofauna. Environmental Pollution.
  • Cruz Paredes C, Lopez Garcia A, Rubæk GH, Hovmand MF, Sørensen P & Kjøller R (2017) Risk assessment of replacing conventional P fertilizers with biomass ash: residual effects on plant yield, nutrition, cadmium accumulation and mycorrhizal status. Science of the Total Environment, 575, 1168-1176. DOI: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.09.194
  • Hovmand MF, Kystol J, (2013) Atmospheric element deposition in southern Scandinavia Atmospheric Environment 77, 482-489.
  • Hovmand MF, Nielsen SP, Johnsen I (2009) Root uptake of lead by Norway spruce grown on 210Pb spiked soils. Environmental Pollution 157, 404-409
  • Hovmand MF, Kemp K, Kystol J, Johnsen I, Riis-Nielsen T, Pacyna JM (2008) Atmospheric heavy metal deposition accumulated in rural forest soils of southern Scandinavia. Environmental Pollution 1-5.

Reports and Popular articles:

  • Mads F. Hovmand & Jørgen Kystol, (2011). Det regner med sølv. Atmosfærisk nedfald af tungmetaller over København. KTC, Teknik & Miljø, Nr. 2
  • Hovmand MF (2010). Atmosfærisk deposition af tungmetaller og andre sporelementer i Storkøbenhavn. Omfatter målinger fra perioden 1908-2009. Rapport til Københavns Kommune Teknik og Miljøforvaltning
  • Hovmand MF (2008). Atmosfærisk deposition af tungmetaller og andre sporelementer i Storkøbenhavn. Rapport til Københavns Kommune Teknik og Miljøforvaltning. Dec. 2008.

Scientific articles:

  • Nielsen NH, Kristiansen SM (2013) Identifying ancient manuring: traditional phosphate vs. multi-element analysis of archaeological soil. Journal of Archaeological Science, 42, 390-398. DOI: 10.1016/j.jas.2013.11.013.

Tonny Bernt Thomsen

Senior Researcher
Petrology and Economic Geology
Phone: +45 91333885

Olga Nielsen

Laboratory Technician
Petrology and Economic Geology
Phone: +45 91333874

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 (hydrofluorid acid, hydrochloric acid, nitric acid) following standardized protocols, which is 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.