Elemental and mineralogical study of earth-based pigments using particle induced X-ray emission and X-ray diffraction
Nel, P and Lynch, PA and Laird, JS and Casey, HM and Goodall, LJ and Ryan, CG and Sloggett, RJ, Elemental and mineralogical study of earth-based pigments using particle induced X-ray emission and X-ray diffraction , Nuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section A: Accelerators, Spectrometers, Detectors, and Associated Equipment, 619, (1-3) pp. 306-310. ISSN 1872-9576 (2010) [Refereed Article]
Artwork and precious artefacts demand non-destructive analytical methodologies for art authentication, attribution and provenance assessment. However, structural and chemical characterisation represents a challenging problem with existing analytical techniques. A recent authentication case based on an Australian Aboriginal artwork, indicate there is substantial benefit in the ability of particle induced X-ray emission (PIXE), coupled with dynamic analysis (DA) to characterise pigments through trace element analysis. However, this information alone is insufficient for characterising the mineralogical residence of trace elements. For this reason a combined methodology based on PIXE and X-ray diffraction (XRD) has been performed to explore the benefits of a more comprehensive data set.
Many Aboriginal paintings and artefacts are predominantly earth pigment based. This makes these cultural heritage materials an ideal case study for testing the above combined methodological approach on earth-based pigments. Samples of synthetic and naturally occurring earth-based pigments were obtained from a range of sources, which include Indigenous communities within Australia’s Kimberley region. PIXE analyses using a 3 MeV focussed proton beam at the CSIRO nuclear microprobe, as well as laboratory-based XRD was carried out on the above samples. Elemental signature spectra as well as mineralogical data were used to assess issues regarding synthetic and naturally occurring earth pigments with the ultimate aim of establishing provenance.