Journal of Soils and Sediments

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 438–448 | Cite as

Comparison of field portable XRF and aqua regia/ICPAES soil analysis and evaluation of soil moisture influence on FPXRF results

  • Arnaud Robin Schneider
  • Benjamin Cancès
  • Clément Breton
  • Marie Ponthieu
  • Xavier Morvan
  • Alexandra Conreux
  • Béatrice Marin
Soils, Sec 2 • Global Change, Environ Risk Assess, Sustainable Land Use • Research Article



Field portable X-ray fluorescence (FPXRF) technology can offer a rapid and cost-effective determination of the total elemental concentrations in soils. The aims of this study were (i) to test the capability of FPXRF to predict the element concentrations of a very large soil sample set and (ii) to assess the influence of soil moisture, known to strongly affect the quality of FPXRF analyses.

Materials and methods

A large set of 215 soil samples were analysed for Ba, Ca, Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Pb, Rb, Sn, Sr and Zn by inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICPAES) after aqua regia digestion and with a FPXRF analyser using a short acquisition time. Soil samples were then saturated with ultrapure water to test the influence of soil water content on FPXRF signal.

Results and discussion

For all of the elements, the total concentrations obtained with ICPAES and FPXRF showed a very high degree of linearity, indicating that FPXRF can effectively predict element concentrations in soils. A Lambert-Beer law was successfully used to describe the decrease in the FPXRF concentrations with increasing soil moisture. The attenuation coefficient obtained for each element allowed us to satisfactorily predict the FPXRF concentrations of samples for water contents as high as 136.8 %.


These results show that the effect of water on signal attenuation can be corrected and that FPXRF may gradually replace chemical methods for the analysis of environmental samples.


FPXRF Soil Trace elements Water content 



The authors wish to thank the Champagne-Ardenne region for a PhD grant to A. Schneider.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest in this research study and that this one is in agreement with the ethical standards of the COPE guidelines.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnaud Robin Schneider
    • 1
  • Benjamin Cancès
    • 1
  • Clément Breton
    • 1
  • Marie Ponthieu
    • 1
  • Xavier Morvan
    • 1
  • Alexandra Conreux
    • 1
  • Béatrice Marin
    • 1
  1. 1.Groupe d’Etude sur les Géomatériaux et les Environnements Naturels, Anthropiques et Archéologiques (GEGENAA, EA 3795)Université de Reims Champagne-ArdenneReimsFrance

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