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Department of Environment and Science

Queensland Government

Department of Environment and Science

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Chemistry Centre—What we do

What we do

We provide accredited chemical and physical analyses of water, soil, sediment and plant samples to support research and decisions for agricultural, environmental and resource management outcomes.

Our core areas of expertise are:

  • analytical chemistry
  • water chemistry
  • soil chemistry
  • sediment geochemistry
  • environmental tracing.

We advise on research methods and develop new analytical methods for specific research purposes, sampling techniques and interpretation of results.

We also have the capability to employ environmental tracing technologies and geomorphological techniques to understand nutrient and sediment movement in the environment.

Our laboratories

Our laboratory is coordinated four disciplines:

  • Soil and plant

    The soil and plant laboratory has provided analyses for agricultural and environmental assessment to support research, extension and monitoring programs across all Queensland Government departments and some federal and interstate government departments (Northern Territory and South Australia). The laboratory has the capability of using a selection of appropriate fit for purpose analytical chemical and physical techniques for soils and plants encompassing wet physical chemistry, major Ions, nutrients, physical attributes and metals.

  • Water

    The Water laboratory focuses on helping clients understand how land use and land management affects water quality and the consequence for Queensland’s water resources and iconic aquatic ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef. Effective and sustainable land and water management, that supports productivity, must be underpinned by defensible information on landscape and water processes including advice on: matters related to the degradation of land and water resources and the impacts of agricultural and mining practices, chemical contaminants and waste disposal on land and water resources.

  • Isotopes and organics

    The isotope laboratory utilises an isotopic ratio mass spectrometer (IRMS) to determine stable isotopes for hydrogen, carbon, oxygen and nitrogen. The data acquired provides analytical and interpretative services to Government Agencies and other research and resource management service delivery organisations. Stable isotopes are used in tracing nutrient and water pathways though the environment, soil substrate, plants (crops) and greenhouse gas emissions.

    Organics analysis looks at niche analytical processes where no methods are available and specific data sets are required to deliver on Government requirements. Recent projects have included impact studies of human activities through the analysis of sunscreen and insect repellent residues in popular waterways, bio pigment deposits in sediment layers, metabolic organic acids in soil and pesticide residues.

  • Geochemistry

    The Geochemistry laboratory maintains and operates some of the Chemistry Centre’s major instruments. It is responsible for the analysis of soil, sediment, plant and water samples for their elemental makeup to support the Waters and Soils Laboratory and the Air Quality monitoring program.

    In addition to this, the Geochemistry team date sediment deposition by optically stimulated luminescence (OSL), measure radionuclides by gamma spectrometry and determine the geochemistry of sediments. This supports the geomorphological and sediment tracing programs delivering critical data through sediment and particulate geochemistry to provide long term flood event dating and relate it to land use impact.

While this separation assists in broadly describing the types of analysis and applications, these teams do not operate in isolation of one another and there are strong dependencies between the disciplines.

What we can analyse

Our laboratories provide analytical chemical and physical chemistry techniques for soils, sediments, plants and water samples.  Techniques used are wet analytical and physical chemistry, major ions, nutrients, physical attributes, metals and isotopes. The laboratories respond to the wide range of end applications and testing for:

  • soils and sediments
  • plant material
  • water and wastewater.

For a full list of analysis or for specialised analysis development, please contact us.

Who are our customers?

We provide services for Queensland Government, Federal Government, and interstate government agencies, Universities (under memorandum of understanding agreements) and government affiliated environmental and science groups.

Our commitment to quality

We are committed to:

  • continuous improvement of chemical analysis
  • the principles of quality in the management and delivery of professional chemical analyses, data interpretation, advice and research
  • high standards of accuracy, responsiveness and overall client satisfaction
  • training of staff to ensure the correct implementation of the quality policies and procedure
  • the principles of good laboratory practice and continued accreditation to standard AS ISO/IEC 17025:2005 for chemical testing.

We have held accreditation for quality assurance for more than 20 years continuous with the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) as well as certification of analytical competence for soil and plant testing from the Australasian Soil and Plant Analysis Council (ASPAC).

More information

For general enquiries phone 07 3170 5442.

For sample receipt enquiries phone 07 3170 5696 or email .

Sample Submission Request

Directions for use:

1. Download the Sample Submission Request template*
2. Ensure to enable macros before editing
3. Save as a .xlsm file (macros enabled)
4. Email

*Please ensure you always download the latest version.

For assistance in filling in the template please call the Chemistry Centre Sample Receipt team on 07 3170 5696.

Last updated
1 July 2017