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In laboratory investigations, interest developed in the possible rare-earth content of phosphate samples from Florida and the northwestern United States. Because of the difficulty of making chemical determinations of traces of individual rare earths, a combined chemical-spectrographic method was investigated. After removal of iron by the extraction of the chloride with ether, the rare earths and thorium are concentrated by double oxalate precipitation, using calcium as a carrier. The rare earths are freed from calcium by an ammonium hydroxide precipitation with a fixed amount of aluminum as a carrier. The aluminum also serves as an internal standard in the final spectrographic analysis. The method will determine from 0.02 to 2 mg. of each rare earth with an error no greater than 10%. The investigation has resulted in a fairly rapid and precise procedure, involving no special spectrographic setup. The method could be applied to other types of geologic materials with the same expected accuracy.
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Method for determination of small amounts of rare earths and thorium in phosphate rocks