Advances in analytical techniques have been a force in testing and producing new hypotheses in the Earth sciences. Many geologic processes can theoretically be tested by measuring a group of elements or isotopes and by combining elemental and isotopic data with mineral textures. For this reason, geochemists have long been at the forefront of certain aspects of analytical chemistry. More geochemists are now actively involved in the development of new analytical techniques and instrumentation.
Early wet chemical techniques (e.g. Nockolds, 1954) provided petrologists with analytical data that allowed for classification of rocks. These techniques produced data on concentrations of major elements in geologic materials, with reasonably high precision if the operator was qualified.