Journal of Paleolimnology

, Volume 54, Issue 2–3, pp 253–261 | Cite as

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


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.


Clay mineralogy Lake sedimentology Paleolimnology Spectroscopy Modified Gaussian modeling 



The authors would like to thank Dave Murray, Joe Orchardo and Dr. Takahiro Hiroi for technical support and assistance and Satrio Wicaksono, Sinyo Rio, and PT Vale for field assistance in Indonesia. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Kevin Robertson for assistance with XRD data interpretation and two anonymous reviewers who provided excellent feedback to strengthen this paper. Research permits for this work were granted by the Indonesian Ministry of Research and Technology (RISTEK). This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number EAR-1144623 to J. Russell.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 629 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea K. Weber
    • 1
    • 3
  • James M. Russell
    • 1
  • Timothy A. Goudge
    • 1
  • Mark R. Salvatore
    • 1
    • 4
  • John F. Mustard
    • 1
  • Satria Bijaksana
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth, Environmental, and Planetary SciencesBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA
  2. 2.Global Geophysics Research Group, Faculty of Mining and Petroleum EngineeringInstitut Teknologi BandungBandungIndonesia
  3. 3.School of Engineering and Applied SciencesHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  4. 4.School of Earth and Space ExplorationArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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