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Mutual Interference in the Microchemical Determination of Ore Minerals


Dreyer, Robert Marx (1937) Mutual Interference in the Microchemical Determination of Ore Minerals. Master's thesis, California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/Q8JE-0D18.


The use of microchemical methods is spreading rapidly, both for the qualitative and quantitative determination of elements. Microchemistry offers a decided advantage over "bulk" methods, not only because of the greater speed with which the determinations can be carried out, but also because of the very small amounts of material required for a test. Microchemical methods are particularly valuable in determining the composition of the small inclusions in ores and metallurgical products.

Most of the reagents used are sufficiently sensitive to show the presence of 0.005 per cent or less of the desired element. Needless to say, if such minute quantities of an element are to be identified, it is essential that the procedure of the test be carefully followed and the utmost caution taken that there is no pollution of the reagent or the test drop. Despite such care, it frequently happens that the test obtained is not wholly satisfactory. Either the color of the precipitate is unusual, the form is changed or entirely different, or sometimes no test is obtained when previous observations have indicated that the element should be present. When such changes occur-and they occur frequently, even in the hands of skilled technicians-the observer is never certain whether they are due to variations in the PH of the solution, concentration of reagent or solution, or to the presence of some interfering anion or cation. The first two variables can be controlled by proper attention to the procedure of the test; in many cases the last variable-presence of an interfering anion or cation-is beyond control. Often, much time could be saved by recognizing that a given variation in the precipitate is caused by the presence of another element. In fact, some of the interferences are as characteristic of the interfering element as any other known test.

The presence of a variety of elements in the test drop is due either to a poor sample or to a complex mineral. A poor sample is obtained if the original area of the mineral or inclusion is too small. In this case, allowance can usually be made for the presence in the solution of elements of the host mineral, although their presence may cause notable interferences. Where the mineral varies in composition there may be no hint of the presence of elements, other than those expected in the mineral, until trouble is encountered in the testing.

Item Type:Thesis (Master's thesis)
Subject Keywords:Geology
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Geological and Planetary Sciences
Major Option:Geology
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Unknown, Unknown
Thesis Committee:
  • Unknown, Unknown
Defense Date:1 January 1937
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:03282010-114752089
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:5630
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:15 Apr 2010 17:50
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:45

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