Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP) Facility

The ICP Facility provides high quality major and trace element information on geological, environmental and biological systems, using ICP-AES and ICP-MS methodologies. We are accredited to ISO 17025 for major and trace element measurements in aqueous samples.

The ICP Facility has the capability to analyse a wide range of sample types including: surface and groundwaters, landfill leachates, rocks, soils, stream and marine sediments, coal, fly ash, vegetation, cement, shells and corals, filter media, hair, fingernails, foodstuffs and many more challenging sample matrices.


Multi-element analysis for a wide range of elements with ultratrace detection limits (ng/l) required for the measurement of background levels in natural waters. Applications include regional geochemical mapping, monitoring of industrial discharges and experimental fluids from water-rock interaction rigs.

Water sampling
Sampling in the Mersey Estuary


Prior to analysis, solid materials are dried, milled to a fine powder and then dissolved. A range of digestion techniques are available; these include heating with acids (including HF as necessary) in an automated hotblock or microwave oven, or fusion with sodium peroxide. Our experts will advise you on the most suitable protocol for your application.

Alternatively, spatial analysis of solids on a micrometer scale is available using laser ablation ICP-MS. BGS has extensive expertise in this technique; examples of recent research include studies of the migration of elements during tests to stimulate conditions for radioactive waste disposal, and variations in the chemical composition of cold water corals and fish otoliths in relation to pollution and climate change.


Current methodology employs quadrupole ICP-MS to provide rapid, relatively inexpensive, isotope measurements. This has proved ideal for environmental applications involving a survey or monitoring protocol, and is applicable to a wide range of sample types.

ICP-MS with laser ablation
ICP-MS instrument

Additional information on the determination of arsenic speciation and uranium isotope ratios in environmental and biological systems is available.


Please contact Dr Simon Chenery for further information