Major components of lacustrine sediments, such as carbonates, organic matter, and biogenic silica, provide significant paleoenvironmental information about lake systems. Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and scanning X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques are fast, cost effective, efficient methods to determine the relative abundances of these components. We investigate the potential of these techniques using sediments from two large lakes, Lake Malawi in Africa and Lake Qinghai in China. Our results show statistically significant correlations of conventionally measured concentrations of carbonate (%CaCO3), total organic carbon (%TOC), and biogenic silica (%BSi), with absorbance in the corresponding FTIR spectral regions and with XRF elemental ratios including calcium:titanium (Ca/Ti), incoherent:coherent X-ray scatter intensities (Inc/Coh), and silicon:titanium (Si/Ti), respectively. The correlation coefficients (R) range from 0.66 to 0.96 for comparisons of FTIR results and conventional measurements, and from 0.70 to 0.90 for XRF results and conventional measurements. Both FTIR and XRF techniques exhibit great potential for rapid assessment of inorganic and organic contents of lacustrine sediments. However, the relationship between XRF-ratios or FTIR-absorbances and abundances of corresponding sedimentary components can vary with sediment source and lithology.
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Acknowledgments This work was supported by National Science Foundation grant EAR-0602412 to Colman. We thank Dr. Thomas C. Johnson for providing Malawi sediment samples. We thank Sarah Grosshuesch for help with carbonate and TOC laboratory analyses.
- Biogenic silica content
- Carbonate content
- Total organic carbon content