Characterizing clay mineralogy in Lake Towuti, Indonesia, with reflectance spectroscopy

Andrea K. Weber, James M. Russell, Timothy A. Goudge, Mark R. Salvatore, John F. Mustard, Satria Bijaksana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We tested the use of visible to near-infrared (VNIR) reflectance spectroscopy to characterize the relative abundances of clay minerals in sediments from Lake Towuti, a large tectonic lake in Sulawesi, Indonesia. We measured VNIR spectra of lake and river sediments from Lake Towuti and its catchment to identify clay minerals, fit major VNIR absorption features with a modified Gaussian model to estimate relative abundances of these minerals, and compared these absorptions to the samples’ chemistry to test the utility of VNIR spectroscopy to characterize sediment compositional variations. We found that major absorptions are caused by vibrations of Al–OH in kaolinite (2.21 μm), Fe–OH in nontronite (2.29 μm), Mg–OH in saponite and serpentine (2.31 μm), and Mg–OH in serpentine (2.34 μm). This was confirmed with X-ray diffraction data. The correlations between absorption band areas for Fe–OH, Al–OH, and Mg–OH vibrations and Fe, Al and Mg concentrations, respectively, are statistically significant, varying between r = 0.51 and r = 0.90, and spatial variations in inferred clay mineralogy within the lake are consistent with variations in the geology of the catchment. We conclude that VNIR spectroscopy is an effective way to characterize the clay mineralogy of lake sediments, and can be used to investigate changes in mineral inputs to lake deposits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-261
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Paleolimnology
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Oct 14 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clay mineralogy
  • Lake sedimentology
  • Modified Gaussian modeling
  • Paleolimnology
  • Spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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