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Can you explain what's the difference between terms Whole-rock geochemisty(or composition) and Bulk rock geochemistry (or composition)

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Whole rock analysis is actually an analysis of pulverized rock material for eleven (11) rock forming elements, not the whole rock.

The elements are then expressed as their common oxide compound, which may or may not actually be present, so they are oxide equivalents.  Here is a more detailed explanation and listing of the Oxides:

Bulk rock analysis is sometimes used interchangeably with whole rock, but may, according to the company doing the analysis.   A ground portion of the rock is subjected to X-ray diffraction analysis to determine the rock forming minerals along with the total clay minerals.  They are reported in tabular form along with their corresponding weight percent.

Minerals analyzed for are:

Feldspars, K-feldspar and Plagioclase
Carbonates, Calcite, Siderite, Dolomite, Ankerite, Magnesite.
Pyrite and Markasite
Amphibole and Pyroxene


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Keith Patton


I can answer questions concerning physical and historical geology, environmental geology/hydrology, environmental consulting, remote sensing/aerial photo interpretation, G&G computer applications, petroleum exploration, drilling, geochemistry, geochemical and microbiological prospecting, 3D reservoir modeling, computer mapping and drilling.I am not a geophysicist.


I have 24 years experience split between the petroleum and environmental industries. I have served as an expert witness in remote sensing, developmental geologist, exploration geologist, enviromental project manager, and subject matter expert in geology and geophysical software development.

American Association of Petroleum Geologists
American Association of Photogrammetrists and Remote Sensing

Bachelor and Master of Science
Registered Geologist in State of Texas

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