The two methods presented for the determination of traces of gold in geologic materials are the cyanide atomic-absorption method and the fire-assay atomic-absorption method. In the cyanide method gold is leached with a sodium-cyanide solution. The monovalent gold is then oxidized to the trivalent state and concentrated by extracting into methyl isobutyl ketone prior to estimation by atomic absorption. In the fire-assay atomic-absorption method, the gold-silver bead obtained from fire assay is dissolved in nitric and hydrochloric acids. Gold is then concentrated by extracting into methyl isobutyl ketone prior to determination by atomic absorption. By either method concentrations as low as 50 parts per billion of gold can be determined in a 15-gram sample.
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USGS Numbered Series
Determination of gold in geologic materials by solvent extraction and atomic-absorption spectrometry