Assessment of soil structure using X-ray computed tomography

H. Rogasik, I. Onasch, J. Brunotte, D. Jegou, O. Wendroth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Assessment of soil structure, characterized by complex morphological and functional properties, is difficult because most conventional soil physical investigations are destructive and variable in spatial resolution. The use of X-ray computed tomography, as a non-destructive technique, presents significant progress. It can be used to study soil structure at the millimetre scale, e.g. with a resolution of 0.25 mm in the horizontal direction and 1 mm in the vertical direction for the reported study. The measured Hounsfield Unit (HU) values characterize X-ray attenuation for each volume element of the soil core samples. From HU values, soil physical properties of soil cores or their subunits can be derived. They enable: (i) visual assessment of the soil structural condition through inspection of the X-ray CT images; (ii) 3D visualization of air-filled macropores; and (iii) calculation of the mean dry bulk density and standard deviation of voxel-related HU values for successive slices of soil cores. The degradation of structure of loamy and silty soils by tillage could be assessed by CT through quantification of decreased air-filled porosity, destroyed macropore connectivity, increased dry bulk density and decreased standard deviation of HU values in horizontal slices. Small-scale compactions near earthworm burrows could also be detected.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-165
Number of pages15
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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