Water analysis via portable X-ray fluorescence spectrometry

Delaina Pearson, Somsubhra Chakraborty, Bogdan Duda, Bin Li, David C. Weindorf, Shovik Deb, Eric Brevik, D. P. Ray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Rapid, in-situ elemental water analysis would be an invaluable tool in studying polluted and/or salt-impacted waters. Analysis of water salinity has commonly used electrical conductance (EC); however, the identity of the elements responsible for the salinity are not revealed using EC. Several studies have established the viability of using portable X-ray fluorescence (PXRF) spectrometry for elemental data analysis of soil, sediment, and other matrices. However, the accuracy of PXRF is known to be affected while scanning moisture-laden soil samples. This study used PXRF elemental data in water samples to predict water EC. A total of 256 water samples, from 10 different countries were collected and analyzed via PXRF, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-AES), and a digital salinity bridge. The PXRF detected some elements more effectively than others, but overall results indicated that PXRF can successfully predict water EC via quantifying Cl in water samples (validation R2 and RMSE of 0.77 and 0.95 log μS cm−1, respectively). The findings of this study elucidated the potential of PXRF for future analysis of pollutant and/or metal contaminated waters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-179
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Hydrology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Proximal sensors
  • Salinity


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