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Geochemistry Laboratories


Article Thumbnail Image 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...
Thursday, September 27, 2012  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Groundwater concentration data and solid-phase leachate data were collected for samples taken in and around Tuba City Open Dump, Tuba City, Arizona, in 2008. Sample locations, sample collection and analytical methods, and previous geochemical results are provided in Johnson and others (2008)...
Monday, June 25, 2012  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Electron beam microanalysis of coal samples in U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) labs confirms that As is the most abundant minor constituent in Fe disulfides in coal and that Se, Ni, and other minor constituents are present less commonly and at lower concentrations than those for As.
Tuesday, May 01, 2012  Type: Outside Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Despite the growing interest in using energy sources other than liquid hydrocarbons (e.g., electricity, natural gas, hydrogen) in the transportation sector, it will be decades before widespread, substantive change to our energy and transportation infrastructure can be implemented...
Monday, December 26, 2011  Type: Outside Publication

Article Thumbnail Image The principal mission of the USGS Energy Resources Program 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... ...
Sunday, December 04, 2011  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image 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...
Tuesday, September 13, 2011  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image 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. Sample collection, preparation and measurement are simple...
Wednesday, August 31, 2011  Type: Outside Publication

Article Thumbnail Image Felsic volcanic rocks have long been considered a primary source of uranium for many kinds of uranium deposits, but volcanogenic uranium deposits themselves have generally not been important resources...
Friday, January 22, 2010  Type: Publication

Article Thumbnail Image A performance audit of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Energy Resource Program (ERP) Inorganic Geochemistry Laboratory (IGL) was conducted between August, 2003 and October, 2005. The goals were to ensure that a high level of analytical performance was maintained and identify any areas that...
Tuesday, May 01, 2007  Type: Publication



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: Friday, January 31, 2014


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