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School of Ocean Science and Engineering

Research > (CETA) Center for Trace Analysis

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The USM Center for Trace Analysis (CETA) coordinates analytical services provided by the USM Division of Marine Science. Most specifically, this means trace element analysis utilizing the division's high resolution inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometer (HR-ICP-MS). CETA's ultimate mission is to provide state-of-the-art expertise, training, analytical services, and research in trace chemical analysis.

Our Offerings

  • Elemental Analysis of Waters and Solids by High Resolution Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry
  • Other Services Available Include Nutrient and Particulate Carbon-Nitrogen Analyses as well as Sample Collection and Preparation.
  • Proven Experience in Trace Element Analysis.
  • Application to Environmental, Health, Forensic, Semiconductor, & Life Sciences.
  • Unparalleled Limits of Detection in Elemental Analysis
  • *NEW: Analysis of O18/O16 and D/H ratios in water

Our Services

By high resolution ICP-MS:

  • Elemental analysis
  • Isotope ratio analysis
  • Isotope dilution analysis

Other services:

  • Solids dissolution
  • Sample collection
  • Nutrient & chlorophyll analysis
  • Particulate carbon-nitrogen analysis
  • Ion chromatography
  • Training in aquatic chemistry & ICP-MS

Our current facilities do not permit quantification of organic compounds or determination of light stable isotope ratios such as C13/C12 or N15/N14.

Unparalleled Limits of Detection

(ppt is parts per 1012, ppq is parts per 1015).

Unparalleled Limits of Detection

LOW SAMPLE REQUIREMENTS: Use of a micro-flow nebulizer means we can do most analyses with < 1 mL of sample! Also available: a desolvating micro-nebulizer.

Applications of (HR-ICP-MS)

  • Environmental & Earth Science: Elemental analysis of waters, rocks, soils; isotope ratio determinations to better than ±0.1% for Pb, Sr, and Li isotopes.
  • Semiconductor Industry: Determination of reagent purity.
  • Forensics: Elemental fingerprinting of crime scenes and stolen or recovered items.
  • Health & Biological Sciences: Elemental analysis for drug purity and the presence of trace elements in tissues and fluids.
  • Nuclear Industry: Tracing and confinement of reactor wastes.


For HR-ICP-MS analysis:

  • Academic/government labs: $135.00/hour
  • Commercial/private: $165.00/hour
  • Water isotopes: $20/hour (10-sample minimum)

For budgeting purposes: we can analyze "typical" dissolved samples at a rate of approx. 50/day. We will also charge for sample/standards preparation and data processing.


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