Attempts have been made to employ magnesium oxide as the preconcentration agent for determination of trace metal sin seawater by neutron activation analysis. Hydrous magnesium oxide can efficienthy adsorb most cationic transition metals and rare earths in a simple water system. The adsorption behavior is believed to depend mainly from the association of the cationic species of the metals with MgO
adsorbent. In seawater matrix some of the metal ions such as Hg2+, Ni2+, etc. may become inefficiently adsorbed owing to the formation of highly stable metal-chloro complexes with chloride ion. Usually the adsorption efficiencies of the metals can be recovered to be as high as the case in the simple water system if an acidified seawater (to pH1) is subjected to the adsorption experiment. In practice, a large volume of seawater (5 1) is stirred with a small amount of hydrous MgO (1 g). Thereafter, the trace metals adsorbed MgO is separated and taken to be neutron activated. The abundant sodium ion and ubiquitous bromide ion can be obviated by the adsorption process, thereby beneficial to the -spectrometry of the metals enriched on MgO.