Texas Tech University

GeoAnalytical Laboratory


Welcome to the TTU GeoAnalytical Laboratory. Our laboratory has been providing analyses of rocks, soils, water, and biological materials to the geologic and environmental research communities since 1985 with arrival of a Perkin-Elmer 3030 atomic absorption spectrometer. In 1988 a major milestone was achieved with the addition of our first Leeman Labs ICP-AES. Both machines are now retired. The two primary analytical tools currently in use at the TTU GeoAnalytical Laboratory are the Agilent 7500cs inductively coupled plasma quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-MS), acquired in 2007, and the Leeman Labs Prodigy High Dispersion inductively coupled plasma spectrometer (ICP-AES), installed in the spring of 2011. We have a New Wave UP213 Nd:YAG laser system that can be used in conjuction with the ICP-MS to analyze solid materials and an Agilent ASX-500 autosampler sample introduction system for dilute aqueous samples.

The GeoAnalytical Laboratory is a research oriented facility. We work with undergraduates, graduate students, and professors to determine the chemical composition of their research samples. As a department facility, our first priority is the support of Texas Tech Geosciences students and faculty in their research endeavors. We work with students and faculty from other TTU and TTU HSC departments, and accept contract work.

We are happy to discuss the possibilities available and how we might meet your analytical needs.

For more information, including costs and to schedule analytical work, please contact Dr. Melanie A. Barnes, Senior Research Associate, Department of Geosciences.

Directions to the Lab

Enter the Texas Tech University campus via the main gate and travel around Memorial Circle to the Science Building (Geosciences and Physics). We are located on the second floor of the Science Building in Room 206.

What we do...

The GeoAnalytical Lab houses a Leeman Labs inductive coupled plasma – atomic emission spectrometer (ICP-AES) and Perkin-Elmer atomic absorption spectrometer (AA).

Whole rock samples can be analyzed for major (SiO2, TiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, MnO, MgO, CaO, Na2O, K2O, P2O5) and trace (Ba, Rb, Sr, Zr, Y, Sc, V, Ni, Cr, Cu, Zn, Nb, Be) elements using a lithium metaborate fusion solution. Loss on ignition (LOI) is included with whole rock analysis and requires 1-4 g sample powder.

Environmental (water and soil) and biological samples (liver, kidney, etc) are analyzed for typical EPA metals including Cu, Zn, Fe, Sr, Mg, Ni, Cr, Cd, Mo, As, Pb and alkalies. Minimum sample size is a 10 ml solution.

Preparation of samples by EPA approved digestion methods and powdering of rock samples can be done for an additional cost.


geoanalytical_icpThe TTU GeoAnalytical Laboratory purchased a new Prodigy High Dispersion ICP-AES from Leeman Labs in early 2011. The ICP-AES can analyze concentrated aqueous solutions (as high as 3% total disolved solids). The TTU ICP-AES regularly analyzes whole rock samples for major elements (SiO2, TiO2, Al2O3, Fe2O3, MnO, MgO, CaO, Na2O, K2O, P2O5) and trace elements (Ba, Rb, Sr, Zr, Y, Sc, V, Ni, Cr, Cu, Zn, Nb, Be). We also commonly analyze environmental samples (water and soil), and biological samples (kidney, liver, urine, etc) for typical EPA metals including Cu, Zn, Fe, Mn, Co, Sr, Mg, Ni, Cr, Cd, Mo, As, Pb, and alkalies.

geoanalytical_la-icp-ms.jpgIn 2006 we announced the acquisition of an Agilent 7500cs inductively coupled plasma quadrupole mass spectrometer (ICP-MS) and a New Wave UP213 Nd:YAG laser system. The laser ablation sampling system can be used in conjunction with the ICP-MS to study a wide range of solid materials. In situ investigations can be made of the chemical compositions of minerals, natural glasses, fused whole rock glasses, and compositional zoning within individual mineral crystals. The ICP-MS makes possible the study of trace element concentrations in a variety of biological materials including otoliths (fish ear bones), bird feathers, and tissues.

geoanalytical_m4fluxerWhen used in conjunction with our Agilent ASX-500 autosampler as the sample introduction system, the ICP-MS can be employed to do ppb level analyses for dilute (<2000 ppm total dissolved solids) aqueous samples. Aqueous samples for whole rock analyses and disks for laser work are prepared in platinum crucibles using the M4 Fluxer.

Analysis Request

When requesting an analysis, try to include as much of the following information as possible in your initial email:

  • Types of samples
  • Number of samples
  • Elements to be analyzed
  • Concentration levels (if known)
  • Desired level of participation during analysis
  • Timeline
  • Objective of project
  • Any previously published papers with similar analytical methods
  • Contact information


Listed below are common operating procedures followed in the lab. Students: before coming to the lab, check here for any procedures related to what you are about to do. Please note that possessing a copy of the procedure alone does not give you any permission to operate any of the machinery without supervision.

Sample Preparation

M4 Fluxer




Provided here are the concentrations for common standards used in the lab. See the lab staff for help choosing samples if you are unfamiliar with the process.

Related Links