Characterization of soil mineralogy by FTIR: application to the analysis of mineralogical changes in soils affected by vegetation patches

  • A. Sánchez-Sánchez
  • M. Cerdán
  • J. D. JordáEmail author
  • B. Amat
  • J. Cortina
Regular Article



The objective of this paper was to develop a method based on infrared spectroscopy to compare mineral content in soils and apply it to evaluate soil mineralogical variations in pairs of inter-patch and patch soils in a semi-arid area.


Mixtures of several minerals were analyzed by infrared spectroscopy, the second derivative of the spectra was calculated and the spectra normalized respect to calcite or quartz signals (711 cm−1 or 800 cm−1 respectively). The intensities of representative signals of each mineral were related to their concentration in the mixtures. Pairs of patch and inter-patch soils from five different sites were analyzed by this method. Elemental analysis and total lime analysis were performed in some soil pairs.


Soils were dominated by calcite and quartz, or by montmorillonite and kaolinite. Inter-patch soils were richer in calcite and poorer in quartz or clays than patch soils. Calcite losses in patch soils might be related to soil acidification by CO2 from respiration and/or organic matter. Elemental analysis showed high values of S, Cl, and K in patch soils with respect to inter-patch soils.


The proposed FTIR method was useful to compare soil mineralogy in specific areas. Fertile spots by accumulation of water, soluble salts and sediments may favor plant growth in semi-arid regions and these plants may increase the fertility of the spot. Changes in soil mineral composition could be used to monitor the biological activity of soil in arid and semi-arid zones.


FTIR XRF Quartz Clays Calcite Dolomite 



Research funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (projects UNCROACH, CGL2011–30581- C02–01 and GRACCIE Programa Consolider-Ingenio 2010, CSD2007–00067), Spanish Ministry of the Environment, Rural and Marine Areas (Project RECUVES; 077/RN08/04.1) and Generalitat Valenciana (Programa G. Forteza; FPA/2009/029).


  1. Amat B (2015) Dynamics of woody vegetation patches in semiarid ecosystems in the southeast of Iberian Peninsula. PhD Thesis. University of Alicante.
  2. Bakker AHM, Berendsen RL, Doornbos RF, Wintermans PCA, Pieterse CMJ (2013) The rhizosphere revisited: root microbiomics. Front Plant Sci 4:165 1–165 7. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Banfield JF, Barker WW, Welch SA, Taunton A (1999) Biological impact on mineral dissolution: application of the lichen model to understanding mineral weathering in the rhizosphere. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 96:3404–3411. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bennett BC, Melcer ME, Siegel DI, Hassett JP (1988) The dissolution of quartz in dilute aqueous solutions of organic acids at 25°C. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 52:1521–1530. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Calderon F, Haddix M, Conant R, Magrini-Bair K, Paul E (2013) Diffuse-reflectance Fourier-transform mid-infrared spectroscopy as a method of characterizing changes in soil organic matter. Soil Sci Soc Am J 77:1591–1600. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cerdán M, Sánchez-Sánchez A, Jordá JD, Amat B, Cortina J, Ruiz-Vicedo N, El-Khattabi M (2016) Characterization of water dissolved organic matter under woody vegetation patches in semi-arid Mediterranean soils. Sci Total Environ 553:340–348. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Craddock PR, Herron M, Herron SL (2017) Comparison of quantitative mineral analysis by X-ray diffraction and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. J Sediment Res 87:630–652. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. De Ruig MJ (1992) Tectono sedimentary evolution of the prebetic fold bet of Alicante (SE Spain). A study of stress fluctuations and forelan basin deformation. PhD Thesis. University of UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  9. Ding J, Johnson EA, Martin YE (2018) Linking soil moisture variation and abundance of plants to geomorphic processes: a generalized model for Erosion-uplifting landscapes. J Geophys Res Biogeosci 123:960–975. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Epstein E (2009) Silicon: its manifold roles in plants. Ann Appl Biol 155:155–160. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Estévez A, Vera JA, Alfaro P, Andreu JM, Tent-Manclús JE, Yébenes A (2004) In: de Alicante G, Alfaro P, Andreu JM, Estévez A, Tent-Manclús JE, Yébenes A (eds) Alicante en la Cordillera Bética. University of Alicante, pp 39–50Google Scholar
  12. Field JP, Breshears DD, Whicker JJ, Zou CB (2012) Sediment capture by vegetation patches: implications for desertification and increased resource redistribution. J Geophys Res Biogeosci 117:1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jordá JD, Jordán MM, Ibanco-Cañete R, Montero MA, Reyes-Labarta JA, Sánchez A, Cerdán M (2015) Mineralogical analysis of ceramic tiles by FTIR: a quantitative attempt. Appl Clay Sci 115:1–8. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Lejeune O, Tlidi M, Couteron P (2002) Localized vegetation patches: a self-organized response to resource scarcity. Phys Rev E 66(1):–4.
  15. Marschner H (1995) Mineral nutrition of higher plants. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  16. Matteson A, Herron MM (1993) Quantitative mineral analysis by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy. SCA conference paper number 9308, pp. 1–15Google Scholar
  17. Motamedi J, Mirkala RM, Alizadeh A (2013) Effect of vegetation patches as micro-habitats on changing the soil properties (case study: saline rangelands surrounding Urmia Lake). Int forest soil and Erosion (3):92–94Google Scholar
  18. Raynaud X, Jaillard B, Leadley PW (2008) Plants may alter competition by modifying nutrient bioavailability in rhizosphere: a modeling approach. Am Nat 171:44–58. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Reid KD, Wilcox BP, Breshears DD, MacDonald L (1999) Runoff and Erosion in a Piñon-Juniper woodland: Influence of Vegetation Patches. Soil Sci Soc Am J 63:1869–1879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Reig FB, Adelantado JV, Moya-Moreno MC (2002) FTIR quantitative analysis of calcium carbonate (calcite) and silica (quartz) mixtures using the constant ratio method. Application to geological samples. Talanta. 58:811–821. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Salkind NJ (2010) Encyclopedia of research design. SAGE Publications, Inc London
  22. Schaetzl R, Anderson S (2005) Soils. Genesis and geomorphology. Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  23. Towett EK, Sheperd KD, Sila A, Aynekulu E, Cadisch G (2015) Mid-infrared and total X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy complementarity for assessment of soil properties. Soil Sci Soc Am J 79:1375–1385. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Xu Z, Cornilsen BC, Popko DC, Pennington WD, Wood JR, Hwang JY (2001) Quantitative mineral analysis by FTIR spectroscopy. Int J Vib Spect 5:1–4 Google Scholar
  25. Yin K, Hong H, Li R, Han W, Wu Y, Gao W, Jia J (2012) Mineralogy and genesis of mixed-layer clay minerals in the Jiujiang net-like red soil. Spectrosc Spectr Anal 32:2765–2769. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. Sánchez-Sánchez
    • 1
  • M. Cerdán
    • 1
  • J. D. Jordá
    • 2
    Email author
  • B. Amat
    • 3
  • J. Cortina
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Agrochemistry and Biochemistry, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  2. 2.Institute for Environmental Research, Ramon MargalefUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, Faculty of SciencesUniversity of AlicanteAlicanteSpain

Personalised recommendations