U.S. Geological Survey Approved Inorganic and
Organic Methods for the Analysis of Water and
Fluvial Sediment, 1954--94

By Marvin J. Fishman, Jon W. Raese, Carol N. Gerlitz, and Richard A. Husband

Table of Contents



All inorganic and organic methods for analyzing samples of water and fluvial sediment, which have been approved for use by the U.S. Geological Survey from 1954 to the present (1994), are listed. Descriptive method names include references to published reports for easy retrieval of methodology. The year each method was approved is listed as well as the year the method was discontinued. Inorganic and organic methods are listed separately by sample type (dissolved, whole water, bottom material, suspended sediment, or fish tissue) and by mode of analysis (manual or automated, or both).


Approved methods in use at the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory (NWQL) are listed in this report, which provides the reader with a review of historical data. It includes those methods in use from 1954 to the present (1994).

During this period, the first publication containing approved analytical methods for the analysis of water samples was prepared by Rainwater and Thatcher (1960). This publication has been revised several times since 1960 in a series entitled, "Techniques of Water-Resources Investigations of the U.S. Geological Survey" (TWRI), and in a new series of Open-File Reports started in 1992 entitled, "Methods of Analysis by the U.S. Geological Survey National Water Quality Laboratory." Citations in tables 1 and 2 are from the most recent publication. For example, chloride, using the Mohr method, appears in Rainwater and Thatcher (1960); it also appears in Fishman and Friedman (1989). The latter reference is cited in tables 1 and 2.

The four-digit numbering system used in tables 1 and 2 was started in the late 1960's. This numbering system was an attempt to simplify the identification of each method and to update them as new or revised methods were introduced. The first digit of the identifying number indicates the type of determination (or procedure) for which the method is suitable, according to the following:

The last three digits are unique to each method. The list of methods in numerical order in table 2 is based on the last three digits.

Because of the variety of organic compounds, there is no organized numbering system. The methods included in Wershaw and others (1987) were numbered sequentially starting with 100 (last three digits) using the table of contents. As new methods are approved, numbers are assigned sequentially.

Laboratory codes and schedule numbers can be found in the present and past NWQL Services Catalogs and can be cross-referenced by the reader with the information provided in this Open-File Report.

In addition, the years of start-up and discontinued use of a method are listed in both tables. These dates are approximate and may vary by 1 or 2 years for many of the older methods. However, all new methodology published in the Open-File Report series gives both the month and year of start-up.

Methods are listed in alphabetical order in table 1 and in numerical order in table 2. In both tables, the inorganic methods are listed first and then followed by the organic methods. The data base for both tables was created using Ingres software, which makes it easy to manipulate the information to serve the needs of most users. For example, discontinued methods could be deleted in favor of listing only those methods in use in 1994. The information also could be sorted by analytical technique. To meet these needs, the data base can be shared electronically by contacting the chief of the Laboratory Operations Program at NWQL.