Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) is used to characterize a gold-containing item by its trace elements, a.k.a. fingerprinting the sample by mineralizing event and to the particular mine or bullion source.
This technique has been used to lay claim to stolen or relocated gold. Even gold that has undergone salting can be identified as to its multiple sources.
- RJ Watling, HK Herbert, D Delev, ID Abell. "Gold fingerprinting by laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry". Spectrochimica Acta, Part B: Atomic Spectroscopy, 1994, 49, 205–219. doi:10.1016/0584-8547(94)80019-7.
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