Using SEM and Color Analysis in Sediment Fingerprinting

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Graham Peaslee, Hope College

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Lake Macatawa is a hypereutropic lake because of the excess sedimentation and attached phosphorus. To help battle the high phosphorous content in the lake, a variety of analytical methods are being employed through the Macatawa Watershed Project. The goal of this project is to use a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and color analysis to study the size and shape of the sediment, biologicals such as pollen within the sediment and even reflected light color of the sediment to determine subtle differences that will allow a fingerprinting of sediment within the watershed. Images for analysis of size/shape and biologicals are collected using a SEM and analyzed using commercial software. Due to the variation in pH, vegetation, and soil type each part of the watershed has distinctive characteristics. Data collected from the SEM will be combined with RGB color analysis of the sediments as well. This fingerprinting of the sediment will allow for preliminary attribution of the nonpoint source pollution to individual sub-watersheds and allow for the prioritization of remediation methods to improve the overall water quality of Lake Macatawa.

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