The variation in relative elemental concentrations among a series of coal macerals belonging to the vitrinite maceral group was determined using laser micro mass spectrometry (LAMMS). Variations in Ba, Cr, Ga, Sr, Ti, and V concentrations among the coals were determined using the LAMM A-1000 instrument. LAMMS analysis is not limited to these elements; their selection illustrates the application of the technique. Ba, Cr, Ga, Sr, Ti, and V have minimal site-to-site variance in the vitrinite macerals of the studied coals as measured by LAMMS. The LAMMS data were compared with bulk elemental data obtained by instrumental neutron activation analysis (INAA) and D. C. arc optical emission spectroscopy (DCAS) in order to determine the reliability of the LAMMS data. The complex nature of the ionization phenomena in LAMMS and the lack of standards characterized on a microscale makes obtaining quantitative elemental data within the ionization microvolume difficult; however, we demonstrate that the relative variation of an element among vitrinites from different coal beds in the eastern United States can be observed using LAMMS in a "bulk" mode by accumulating signal intensities over several microareas of each vitrinite. Our studies indicate gross changes (greater than a factor of 2 to 5 depending on the element) can be monitored when the elemental concentration is significantly above the detection limit. "Bulk" mode analysis was conducted to evaluate the accuracy of future elemental LAMMS microanalyses. The primary advantage of LAMMS is the inherent spatial resolution, ~ 20 ??m for coal. Two different vitrite bands in the Lower Bakerstown coal bed (CLB-1) were analyzed. The analysis did not establish any certain concentration differences in Ba, Cr, Ga, Sr, Ti, and V between the two bands. ?? 1988 Springer-Verlag.