Estimation of carbonate, total organic carbon, and biogenic silica content by FTIR and XRF techniques in lacustrine sediments

Xiuju Liu, Steven M. Colman, Erik T. Brown, Elizabeth C. Minor, Hongyu Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-398
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
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
  • FTIR
  • Total organic carbon content
  • XRF


Dive into the research topics of 'Estimation of carbonate, total organic carbon, and biogenic silica content by FTIR and XRF techniques in lacustrine sediments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this