Abstract

ABSTRACT

Geochemical analysis of geological materials introduces errors at virtually every stage of sample preparation and analysis. Determining the actual analytical error (that error introduced during the analysis of prepared sub-samples of geological materials) is commonly difficult because many forms of analysis destroy the sub-sample. As a result, duplicate analysis cannot be undertaken to measure analytical error directly, and analytical error cannot be isolated from sub-sampling error. However, using replicate analyses of sub-samples of two different masses, and solving a system of three equations in three unknowns, the actual ‘analytical’ error can be deduced and distinguished from the sub-sampling error. This provides a means to estimate sub-sampling and analytical error magnitudes and to determine whether increasing sub-sample mass will result in an efficient reduction in overall error in geochemical analyses. It also provides a means to quantify sub-sampling error in reference materials so that they can be properly used in geochemical analysis to monitor and quantify analytical error.

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