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Geochemistry Laboratories

News & Recent Publications

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Evidence for a palaeo-oil column and alteration of residual oil in a gas-condensate field: Integrated oil inclusion and experimental results

Outside Publication: Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In the Phuong Dong gas condensate field, Cuu Long Basin, Vietnam, hydrocarbon inclusions in quartz trapped a variety of petroleum fluids in the gas zone. Based on the attributes of the oil inclusion assemblages (fluorescence colour of the oil, bubble size, presence of bitumen), the presence of a palaeo-oil column is inferred prior to migration of gas into the reservoir. When a palaeo-oil column is displaced by gas, a residual volume fraction of oil remains in pores....

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Powder X-Ray Diffraction Laboratory, Reston, Virginia

USGS Publication: Fact Sheet 2014-3063
The powder x-ray diffraction (XRD) laboratory is managed jointly by the Eastern Mineral and Environmental Resources and Eastern Energy Resources Science Centers. Laboratory scientists collaborate on a wide variety of research problems involving other U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) science centers and government agencies, universities, and industry. Capabilities include identification and quantification of crystalline and amorphous phases, and crystallographic and atomic structure analysis for a wide variety of sample media...

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Database of the United States Coal Pellet Collection of the U.S. Geological Survey Organic Petrology Laboratory

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1151
The Organic Petrology Laboratory (OPL) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Eastern Energy Resources Science Center in Reston, Virginia, contains several thousand processed coal sample materials that were loosely organized in laboratory drawers for the past several decades. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

234U/238U isotope data from groundwater and solid-phase leachate samples near Tuba City Open Dump, Tuba City, Arizona

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2012–1126
This report releases 234U/238U isotope data, expressed as activity ratios, and uranium concentration data from analyses completed at Northern Arizona University for groundwater and solid-phase leachate samples that were collected in and around Tuba City Open Dump, Tuba City, Arizona, in 2008.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Minor element distribution in iron disulfides in coal

A geochemical review

Outside Publication: International Journal of Coal Geology
Electron beam microanalysis of coal samples in U.S. Geological Survey labs confirms that arsenic is the most abundant minor constituent in iron disulfides in coal and that selenium, nickel, and other minor constituents are present less commonly and at lower concentrations than those for arsenic.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Molecular Characterization and Comparison of Shale Oils Generated by Different Pyrolysis Methods

Outspide Publication: Energy & Fuels
Shale oils generated using different laboratory pyrolysis methods have been studied using standard oil characterization methods as well as Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry (FT-ICR MS) with electrospray ionization (ESI) and atmospheric photoionization (APPI) to assess differences in molecular composition.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Geochemical Database of Feed Coal and Coal Combustion Products

From Five Power Plants in the United States

USGS Publication: Data Series 635
The principal mission of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program (ERP) is to (1) understand the processes critical to the formation, accumulation, occurrence, and alteration of geologically based energy resources; (2) conduct scientifically robust assessments of those resources; and (3) study the impacts of energy resource occurrence and (or) their production and use on both the environment and human health.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Quality Assurance and Quality Control of Geochemical Data

A Primer for the Research Scientist

USGS Publication: Open-File Report 2011–1187
Geochemistry is a constantly expanding science. More and more, scientists are employing geochemical tools to help answer questions about the Earth and earth system processes. Scientists may assume that the responsibility of examining and assessing the quality of the geochemical data they generate is not theirs but rather that of the analytical laboratories to which their samples have been submitted.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Measured reflectance suppressed by thin-film interference of crude oil smeared on glass

As on vitrinite in coal or petroliferous rocks

Outside Publication: Society for Organic Petrology Newsletter
The tool of measuring "vitrinite reflectance" under a microscope has great value in petroleum exploration and coal utilization, and the reflectance is a simple number, such as 1.4% Ro, with some slight variations depending on technique. This report analyzes here just one factor, "smear" of crude oil on the polished surface (from the sample), which may reduce reflectance because of thin-film interference.




The Geochemistry Laboratory supports Energy Program needs for inorganic and organic analysis and maintains a laboratory information system (LIMS) for geochemical data tracking and sample storage. The lab provides geochemical expertise and analytical support to Federal, State and County agencies, universities and foreign research organizations. The laboratory is located in Building 20 of the Denver Federal Center in Lakewood, CO, and is administered by the Central Energy Science Center, Energy Resources Program.


The laboratories methodologies and instrumentation focus on coal and petroleum systems geochemistry as applied to national and global energy resource assessment projects, geologic framework, and petroleum processes studies. The geochemistry lab project supports petroleum processes research project, geochemistry of solid fuels, coal research assessment methodology project, and fossil fuel environmental issues including the evaluation of natural sources of greenhouse gases, prediction and monitoring of fossil-fuel quality and baseline studies of fossil fuel in the environment. The laboratories are on the cutting edge of new methodology and method development to achieve these goals. The labs also have a large focus on data preservation and data management. A proactive approach to data management will assure data quality and accuracy for the future.

Brian Marshall
Lab Manager


Quality Control

The Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL) implements a Quality Management System that emphasizes a continuous commitment to improve quality and efficiency.  Quality Assurance is an integral part of routine laboratory analysis and the EGL has a system in place to identify problems and prevent their recurrence.  The Energy Geochemistry Laboratory Quality Management System is implemented in the QA Manual, which is written to embody the USGS Fundamental Science Practices.

Quality Assurance Update

A quality control issue was identified with some geochemical data produced by the Denver Energy Geochemical Laboratory from 1996-2008.

The USGS Energy Resources Program Geochemistry Laboratory initiated a review of its quality assurance practices in 2008, covering quality control and methodology used in inorganic chemical analyses of coal, coal power plant ash, water and sediment samples.  

This quality control review found that inorganic chemical analyses by the USGS ERP Geochmistry Laboratory from 1996 through 2008 incorporated quality practices that did not meet standards commonly in use at the time.  The most serious shortcoming was the adjustment of raw data to a standard when the instrument reading for the standard was beyond acceptable limits, or when the frequency of repeat analyses of standards was insufficient.  In general, adjustment of raw data to account for instrument drift is acceptable practice within strictly defined limits.  During the period in question, the maximum adjustment of instrument readings, guided by calibration standards, was not allowed to exceed 10%.  However, in some cases the adjustment exceeded 10% and/or was not constrained by an adequate number of control standards.  Original instrument readings no longer exist for about 80% of the analyses in question and we are unable to determine the acceptability of drift corrections for most of the samples analyzed during this period.  For these reasons, 1996-2008 data from the USGS ERP Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratory should be described as "semi-quantitative" and should be used with care. 

Data Review Summary related to data produced by the Denver Energy Geochemical Laboratory from 1996-2008

The review showed that in 25-30 percent of the samples, some analysis had standard deviations greater than 20 percent due to normalization including ICP, ICPMS, Cl, Hg, Se, and S analysis.  Updated values will be in future public database releases found on

For specific questions please e-mail

Download the table of affected jobs directly. 

Version Control

Previous Verson: Archived QA Manual


Page Last Modified: Wednesday, November 26, 2014


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