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Because 99 per cent of the earth's crust consists of only ten elements, all with atomic numbers smaller than 27, the vast majority of the elements are trace constituents of the crust. Semiquantitative and quantitative spectrochemical methods are being used extensively in basic gcochemical studies on the distribution of the elements in crystal rocks, in systematic exploration for hidden ore deposits, and in determination of by-product elements in ores. Trace analysis of natural crystals is of interest with respect to structure-sensitive properties such as color and fluorescence. Trace elements in river and ocean waters constitute a challenging subject for research.
U. S. Geological Survey, Washington, D. C.