Demand is increasing for the determination of the rare-earth elements (REE) and yttrium in geologic materials. Due to their low natural abundance in many materials and the interferences that occur in many methods of determination, a separation procedure utilizing gradient strong-acid cation-exchange chromatography is often used to preconcentrate and isolate these elements from the host-rock matrix. Two separate gradient strong-acid cation-exchange procedures were characterized and the major elements as well as those elements thought to provide the greatest interference for the determination of the REE in geologic materials were tested for separation from the REE. Simultaneous inductively coupled argon plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (ICAP-AES) measurements were used to construct the chromatograms for the elution studies, allowing the elution patterns of all the elements of interest to be determined in a single fraction of eluent. As a rock matrix, U.S. Geological Survey standard reference BCR-1 basalt was digested using both an acid decomposition procedure and a lithium metaborate fusion. Hydrochloric and nitric acids were tested as eluents and chromatograms were plotted using the ICAP-AES data; and we observed substantial differences in the elution patterns of the REE and as well as in the solution patterns of Ba, Ca, Fe and Sr. The nitric acid elution required substantially less eluent to elute the REE and Y as a group when compared to the hydrochloric acid elution, and provided a clearer separation of the REE from interfering and matrix elements. ?? 1984.