Saturday, July 16, 2016

We posted the Inspector General's report on USGS lab misconduct

The Dept. of Interior Inspector General’s report about misconduct at the USGS Inorganic Geochemistry lab is posted at the AZGS Documentary Repository at:

The pdf version is viewable and downloadable directly from

The USGS has a website about the lab data quality issue in general, with a public notice (5/25/2016) on their web site, available at:

The USGS site apparently does not mention the Inspector General's report nor does it seem to be available or linked to from the site.  Here is the USGS intro page:

In October 2014, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Energy Resources Program was informed of a serious data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the Energy Geochemistry Laboratory (EGL), located in the USGS Central Energy Resources Science Center (CERSC) in Lakewood, Colorado. This data quality issue pertains to analyses performed using inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). In the Inorganic Section, ICP-MS analyses are used to measure the concentrations (amounts) of trace elements and rare earth elements in water samples and in extracts prepared from solid samples, such as coal and rock. This data quality issue is the second major data quality issue within the Inorganic Section of the EGL. The previous issue adversely affected data quality and scientific research over the time frame 1996-2008. Notices regarding the previous data quality issue can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site and on the ScienceDirect web site.

After the October 2014 data quality issue was reported, a series of reviews were undertaken, initiated both within and outside the USGS. These reviews were necessary to fully understand the extent of data quality loss that occurred within this section of the EGL. From these reviews, the USGS has learned that this most recent data quality issue potentially affected ICP-MS analyses from 2008-2014. A listing of potentially affected analytical jobs can be found on the USGS Energy Resources Program web site:
  • Tabular .xlsx
  • Document .pdf (62KB)
During this time frame, some data were manipulated both to correct for calibration failures and to improve results of standard reference materials and unknowns. Some of the original files (“raw data”) from the ICP-MS instrument are unavailable, thus the measured concentrations cannot be re-checked for accuracy. As a result, the trace element and rare earth element concentrations reported from these ICP-MS analyses are considered suspect and are to be used with caution. Further, any publications based on these data should be re-evaluated, and revised as needed.

We continue to discuss the issue with USGS officials to better determine what impacts the data manipulation may have on Arizona reports and publications.

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