Elemental Analysis of Lake Macatawa Sediment

Student Author(s)

Kyle Alexander

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Graham Peaslee

Document Type


Event Date



The historical settlement and development of the Holland/Zeeland area has ultimately led to excess soil erosion, which contributes to the current hypereutrophic state of Lake Macatawa. As part of the Macatawa Watershed Project, suspended sediment samples were collected throughout the watershed during periods of significant rainfall. After a significant rainfall has occurred, the sediment samples collected in these traps are retrieved, dried and hydraulically pressed into a solid target. An elemental analysis technique has been developed to routinely analyze these sediment samples via Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) spectrometry. Preliminary results from the PIXE analyses demonstrate that there is elemental variation between sites, as well as between sample collections; these results are reproducible and have been supported by analysis of sediment phosphate content. The goal of this project is to develop a signature that is characteristic of specific sediment sources within the watershed, so that nonpoint source sedimentation can be traced to its origins.

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