Trace element analysis of natural gold by laser ablation ICP-MS: A combined external/internal standardisation approach

Tom E. McCandless, Mark E. Baker, Joaquin Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


For the trace element analysis of gold by laser ablation ICP-MS, external calibration samples of differing matrix composition have been used in previous studies. Data presented here suggest that even for calibration samples and unknowns with closely-matched matrices, discrepancies arise due to variations in the coupling behaviour of the laser with the sample at different power deliveries, and can lead to erroneous trace element determinations. Internal standardisation for gold is complicated because Au and Ag, the most common major elements, do not have minor isotopes that can be used as internal standards. This problem was overcome for natural gold samples by using an external calibration sample only for the major elements Au and Ag, then defocussing the ion path and using 107Ag in each sample as an internal standard against which μg g-1 levels of Te, Sb, Hg, Bi, and Cu were determined. The results suggest that trace elements can occupy lattice sites in gold rather than occurring only as micro-inclusions of other phases. The analytical approach taken here may be used in trace element analysis where adequate external calibration samples are not readily available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-278
Number of pages8
JournalGeostandards Newsletter
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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