The qualities of a laser diffraction grain size analyser, the Coulter LS-100 (range claimed by the manufacturer: 0·4–900 μm in a single measurement), are evaluated on sediments of fluvial and lacustrine origin.
Accuracy and resolution of measurement on standard latex spheres are excellent. Reproducibility of the results on natural sediments appears to be satisfactory, but the method underestimates the fraction of clay particles with an efficiency of detection (36–70%) proportional to the clay content determined from pipette analysis. This efficiency is somewhat higher than those reported from other instruments of the same generation.
Comparison of the Coulter LS-100 with other sizing techniques shows good agreement with the sieving method but some differences appear with the electroresistance particle technique: median and mean size values measured by the Coulter Counter TA1 are systematically lower than those obtained by the Coulter LS-100. Analyses show good correlation with those of a Malvern Laser particle analyser but a discrepancy appears with very fine silt and clay sized sediments. The Coulter LS-100 detects a higher clay content than that measured with the Malvern Laser Sizer 2600. Except when precise measurements of clay content are needed, the Coulter LS-100 produces precise and accurate results in size ranges required for geological and environmental studies.