Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 59, Issue 3, pp 297–308 | Cite as

Hyperspectral core logging for fire reconstruction studies

  • Antonin Van Exem
  • Maxime DebretEmail author
  • Yoann Copard
  • Boris Vannière
  • Pierre Sabatier
  • Stephane Marcotte
  • Benoit Laignel
  • Jean-Louis Reyss
  • Marc Desmet
Original paper


Lacustrine sediments contain a wide range of proxies that enable paleoenvironmental reconstructions. For instance, charcoal can be used to document past fire regime changes. In order to analyse high-temporal- and spatial-resolution records, however, it is necessary to develop fast, low-cost and high-stratigraphic-resolution methods. We developed a new paleo-fire proxy by studying a lacustrine core from the Esterel Massif, SE France, an area affected by two recent fire events, in AD 1987 and 2003. For this purpose, we searched for charcoal deposited and preserved in the lake sediments by combining a number of complementary methods, including: classic macrocharcoal tallying, scanning spectrophotometry, scanning hyperspectral imaging and high pressure liquid chromatography analyses. Macrocharcoal quantification is efficient, but time-consuming, and only provides intermediate-resolution data (cm scale). Spectrophotometry, used classically to quantify colour, is very fast, provides high-resolution data (4 mm) and is non-destructive (core preservation). Hyperspectral data have the same advantages as spectrophotometry, but offer higher spatial resolution (64-µm pixel size) and higher spectral resolution (6 nm) for core logging applications. The main result of this research is based on hyperspectral analysis at very high stratigraphic resolution using the I-band index. This index usually measures reflectance values at [660, 670 nm] corresponding to the trough in red reflectance produced by Chlorophyll a and its diagenetic products. This [660, 670 nm] reflectance trough, however, is also affected by the presence of altered organic matter and decreases with altered organic matter such as charcoal particles. Charcoal effect on the reflectance of Chlorophyll a and its diagenetic products is identified on first derivative spectra by a characteristic pattern around 675 nm, which is also in agreement with the Chlorophyll a concentrations measured by high-pressure liquid chromatography and charcoal particles. The I-band index is hence suitable for detecting burned organic matter, by quantifying the dilution of the chlorophyll signal by the charcoal signal. Thus, this adaptation of the I-band index can be applied in fire reconstruction studies.


Charcoal Fire Paleolimnology Lake sediments Chlorophyll index Hyperspectral high-resolution core logging 



This work was funded by the Region Normandie, which supports the scientific consortium SCALE UMR CNRS 3730. Charcoal tallying was done at the UMR Chrono-environnement, Besançon, in the framework of Région Franche-Comté Project No. 2016YC-04552. We thank M. Fournier, University of Rouen for support, the Laboratoire Souterrain de Modane for the very-low-background radioactivity facilities, Emmanuel Viard for processing samples for HPLC analysis. A. Van Exem was responsible for data acquisition in Rouen, C. Butz in Bern. We are grateful to the two anonymous reviewers.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UNIROUEN, UNICAEN, CNRS, M2CNormandie Univ.RouenFrance
  2. 2.Chrono-Environnement UMR 6249, MSHE USR 3124, CNRSUniv. Bourgogne Franche-ComtéBesançonFrance
  3. 3.Environnement, Dynamique et Territoires de Montagne (EDYTEM), CNRSUniversity Savoie Mont BlancLe Bourget du LacFrance
  4. 4.INSA Rouen, UNIROUEN, CNRS, COBRA (UMR 6014)Normandy UniversitySaint-Étienne-du-RouvrayFrance
  5. 5.GeHCOUniversity of ToursToursFrance
  6. 6.UMR CNRS 6143 - Morphodynamique Continentale et Côtière, Bâtiment Blondel - UFR Sciences et TechniquesUniversité de RouenMont-Saint-Aignan CedexFrance

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