Water sampling

Water sample types we can analyse include:

  • environmental
  • groundwater
  • stream water
  • borehole
  • pore water
  • process water

We also have the facilities to analyse other waters such as saline matrices, synthetic, experimental and hydrothermal fluids, effluents, and leachates.

Trace and major elements capability

The facility has three inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) instruments: an Agilent 8900 Triple Quadrupole (UKAS accredited for aqueous samples to ISO 17025), an Agilent 7500 and a Spectro Array ICP-MS.

We have capability for:

  • high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of 57 elements, plus iodine with TMAH preservation
  • low-volume analyses (< 5 mL, including IC, pH/Alk, NPOC)
  • elemental speciation of arsenic, chromium and selenium using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC)
  • isotope ratio analyses for uranium (e.g. DU) and lead (provenancing)

In addition, we have a Spectro Arcos inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES) instrument used for analysis of major and high trace elements in high total dissolved solutions such as process or saline waters.

Anions: ion chromatography

We have one Dionex ICS5000 dual line ion chromatograph (UKAS accredited for aqueous samples to ISO 17025). There is capability for high-throughput, survey-scale analyses of fluoride, chloride, bromide, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate and sulphate, as well as analysis of low-volume and saline matrix samples.

Alkalinity, pH and organic carbon

Alkalinity and pH are measured using a Radiometer TIM autotitrator. Both pH and alkalinity (expressed as bicarbonate) are accredited to ISO 17025. Determination of alkalinity speciation (hydroxide, carbonate and bicarbonate) can be provided, but outside the scope of accreditation.

Total organic carbon (TOC) or dissolved organic carbon (DOC) (according to whether the sample has been filtered) is measured as non-purgeable organic carbon (NPOC) to reflect sparging inherent in the method, and utilises a Shimadzu TOC-L instrument (accredited to ISO 17025).

Radon in water

Radon (222Rn) is measured by a liquid scintillation counting (LSC) technique using a HIDEX Triathler liquid scintillation counter to quantify the activity of 222Rn radionuclides in aqueous samples.

Gamma-emitting isotopes capability

Natural daughter products from uranium and thorium decay, such as 210Pb, may be used as environmental tracers. Occasionally anthropogenic processes such as oil or gas extraction may pre-concentrate these to hazardous levels e.g. radium in barium sulphate-rich brines.

These radionuclides may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.

Certain artificial radionuclides may be found in our environment or industrial processes due to past nuclear releases, e.g. 137Cs from atmospheric bomb tests or 60Co from steel irradiation. Some of these may be measured using our Canberra Broad Energy germanium gamma spectrometers.


Please contact Michael Watts, Charles Gowing or Simon Chenery for further information.