Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 803–817 | Cite as

Estimation of grain size variability with micro X-ray fluorescence in laminated lacustrine sediments, Cape Bounty, Canadian High Arctic

  • Stéphanie Cuven
  • Pierre Francus
  • Scott F. Lamoureux
Original paper


Finely laminated sediment cores from two Arctic lakes were investigated using the Itrax™ Core Scanner that provides micro X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) measurements with a spatial resolution of 100 μm. We compared these chemical measurements with standard geochemical methods using, at the macroscopic scale, inductively coupled plasma–atomic emission spectrometry (ICP-AES) and, at the microscopic scale, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). We also investigated the relationship between the chemical profiles and the grain size of sediments at macro-scale using laser particle-size analysis, and at microscopic scale, using thin section image analysis techniques. Results show a link between grain size and the relative abundance of several elements. Silicon and zirconium are associated with very coarse silt and sand deposits, K and Fe with clay-rich layers, and Ti with silty facies. Four sedimentary facies are characterised based on sedimentary structure and texture, and interpreted in terms of known seasonal hydroclimatic processes. We show that is possible to identify these sedimentary facies using μ-XRF element abundance or ratio variations. The K/Ti ratio is the best marker of the upper varve boundary, and it might be used for varve identification and counting of Cape Bounty sediments in future. More generally, this study demonstrates new applications for paleohydrological reconstructions from laminated sediments.


Micro X-ray fluorescence (μ-XRF) Particle size analysis Image analysis Clastic varves Arctic lakes Microfacies characterisation 



Work has been supported by grants of the NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada) and the Canadian International Polar Year (IPY) program to PF and SL. Logistical support was provided by the Polar Continental Shelf Program, Natural Resources Canada (PCSP). We especially thank Jean-François Crémer, David Fortin, Anna Pienkowski-Furze, Jessica Tomkins, Jackie Cockburn, and the technical team of INRS-ETE for assistance. This is PCSP contribution number # 034-08.

Supplementary material

10933_2010_9453_MOESM1_ESM.eps (890 kb)
Fig S-1 Correlations between Zr, Ti and K μ-XRF mean values covering the six discrete samples from Fig. 3 and geometric means obtained with the Beckman Coulter LS200 laser diffraction analyser from the ESM Table S-3 (EPS 889 kb)
10933_2010_9453_MOESM2_ESM.xls (18 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLS 18 kb)
10933_2010_9453_MOESM3_ESM.xls (16 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (XLS 16 kb)
10933_2010_9453_MOESM4_ESM.xls (22 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (XLS 21 kb)
10933_2010_9453_MOESM5_ESM.xls (28 kb)
Supplementary material 5 (XLS 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre Eau, Terre et EnvironnementInstitut national de la Recherche ScientifiqueQuebecCanada
  2. 2.Department of GeographyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada

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