Since the early 1900s, investigators have attempted to measure the gold content of seawater. After devoting ten years to quantifying its concentration, Haber concluded that insufficient gold existed in seawater (20 pg g−1-20 ng g−1) to merit its economic extraction. Subsequently, gold has been determined in seawater, often with values ranging from those reported by Haber to those orders of magnitude smaller (0.02-0.2 pg g−1). A comprehensive study of its distribution and behavior in the oceans has yet to be completed, because the measurement techniques are tedious. The determination of extremely low gold levels encountered in marine waters is difficult and generally requires chemical preconcentration. A method for determination of gold in seawater after preconcentration with activated charcoal was reported recently by Hall et al. A relatively convenient technique for the preconcentration of gold from seawater has been recently revised, and in this note we report precautions needed for-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICPMS) to determine gold in seawater after this preconcentration step.
Elzbieta Bakowska, Kelly Kenison Falkner, Ramon M. Barnes, and John M. Edmond, "Sample Handling of Gold at Low Concentration in Limited-Volume Solutions Preconcentrated from Seawater for Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry," Appl. Spectrosc. 43, 1283-1286 (1989)