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A casing-less down hole sampling system for acquiring a subsurface sample for analysis using an inductively coupled plasma system is disclosed. The system includes a probe which is pushed into the formation to be analyzed using a hydraulic ram system. The probe includes a detachable tip member which has a soil point mad a barb, with the soil point aiding the penetration of the earth, and the barb causing the tip member to disengage from the probe and remain in the formation when the probe is pulled up. The probe is forced into the formation to be tested, and then pulled up slightly, to disengage the tip member and expose a column of the subsurface formation to be tested. An instrumentation tube mounted in the probe is then extended outward from the probe to longitudinally extend into the exposed column. A balloon seal mounted on the end of the instrumentation tube allows the bottom of the column to be sealed. A source of laser radiation is emitted from the instrumentation tube to ablate a sample from the exposed column. The instrumentation tube can be rotated in the probe to sweep the laser source across the surface of the exposed column. An aerosol transport system carries the ablated sample from the probe to the surface for testing in an inductively coupled plasma system. By testing at various levels in the down-hole as the probe is extracted from the soil, a profile of the subsurface formation may be obtained.

Patent Number

US 5,561,516


Iowa State University Research Foundation, Inc.

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