Laser Ablation-Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) Laboratory

LA-ICP-MS is a technique capable of analyzing a large number of elements simultaneously at the ppm/ppb range. Solids are analysed using a laser ablation microscope, which can produce spots or lines in the sample down to about 10 um. This offers slightly lower spatial resolution relative to the SEM or Electron Microprobe but has detection limits many orders of magnitude lower. Because of the use of a mass spectrometer, possible interferences are much more readily detected by checking isotopic ratios.

The Agilent/Excimer Laser system housed in the department has significantly higher sensitivity than a Thermo/Solid State Laser system but is more expensive and entails significantly more training to use.

In order to get a quantitative elemental analysis, usually the concentration of one element has to be analysed by another method, typically by electron microprobe analysis which is also available in the department.

Browse the table below for more information about the ICP-MS systems and bookings:

The LA-ICPMS laboratory consists of an NWR 193 UC laser ablation system and an Agilent 7900 quadrupole mass spectrometer. The laboratory was optimized to provide exceptional performance for the analysis of fluid inclusions and silicate melt inclusions in minerals; however, it provides top performance for the analysis of a very broad range of materials. Other typical application areas include the in situ determination of trace and major element composition of minerals, U-Pb dating of zircons and other accessory minerals, trace element mapping, depth profiling, characterization of the composition of non-geologic materials from material, engineering and life sciences.


The laboratory is open to external users. For additional information, please email Dr. Colin Bray.


The Excimer Laser ICP-MS is located in B167. View the room booking calendar.

The current fee structure (in $ per hour) is found below:

Users Hourly Rate
Department of Earth Sciences members $100
Other University of Toronto members $115
Academic Collaborative $100
Academic Non-Collaborative $150
Government (user operated) $150
Industry (user operated) $200
Government (Earth Sciences staff operated) $225
Industry (Earth Sciences staff operated) Please inquire

Important notes for booking:

  1. There is a 2-hour minimum booking period.
  2. Technical support will be provided for instrument start-up and tuning for all users.
  3. Cancellations made <24 hours before the booking time will be charged for 2 hours at the applicable rate.
  4. User training with our qualified technical staff is available free-of-charge.

Below is a list of several publications from past researchers who had used the LA-ICP-MS facilities. This list will be updated to include more current research from the lab.

Bennett, N. and Brenan, J.M., Controls on the solubility of rhenium in silicate melt: Implications for the osmium isotopic composition of Earth’s mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters

Brenan, J.M., Finnigan, C.F., McDonough, W.F. and Homolova, V., Experimental constraints on the partitioning of the Ru, Rh, Ir, Pt and Pd between chromite and silicate melt: The importance of ferric iron. Chemical Geology, 302-303, pp 16-32, 2012.

Caciagli-Warman, N.C., Brenan, J.M., McDonough, W.F., and Phinney, W.C., Experimental constraints on Li partitioning and Li isotope fractionation during subduction zone dehydration. Chemical Geology, 280, pp 384-398, 2011.

Brenan, J.M. and Bennett, N. Soret, Separation of highly siderophile elements in Fe-Ni-S melts: Implications for solid metal-liquid metal partitioning. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 298, pp 299-305, 2010

Brenan, J.M. and McDonough, W.F., Core formation and metal-silicate fractionation of osmium and iridium from gold. Nature Geoscience, vol 2, pp 798-801, 2009.

Rose, L.A., Brenan, J.M., Fei, Y., Secco, R.A. and Frost, D., Perspectives on Earth Differentitation from Metal-Silicate Partitioning of Te, Se, and S. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta., vol 73, 4598-4615, 2009.

Brenan, J.M., Haider, N. and Andrews, D., Experimental evaluation of liquid immiscibility in a portion of the system Fe-Ni-Cu-S using high gravitational acceleration. Economic Geology, vol 103, pp 1563-1570, 2008

Finnigan, C.S., Brenan, J.M., Mungall, J.E. and McDonough, W.F., Experiments and models bearing on the role of chromite as a collector of platinum group minerals by local reduction. Journal of Petrology, vol 49, pp 1647-1665, 2008.

Brenan, J.M., Re-Os Fractionation by sulfide-silicate partitioning: A new spin. Chemical Geology, Special Issue on Highly Siderophile Elements, vol 248, pp 140-165, 2008