2D imaging spectroscopy and 3D X-ray CT high spatial resolution analysis ─ method combination for investigating potential interplay of SOM and soil structure development in intact soil samples

Ms Evelin Pihlap1,2, Mr Maik Lucas3, Dr Markus Steffens4, Professor Doris  Vetterlein3,5, Professor Ingrid Kögel-Knabner1,6

1Chair of Soil Science, Technical University of Munich, Freising, Germany, 2Department of Geography, Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia, 3Soil System Science, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research UFZ, Halle/Saale, Germany, 4Department of Soil Sciences, Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), Frick, Switzerland, 5Soil Science, Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Halle, Germany, 6Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich, Garching, Germany

Visible-near infrared (vis-NIR) spectroscopy is an acknowledged technique to simultaneously observe several soil parameters, such as soil organic matter, nutrient content, moisture, texture, and mineralogy. Imaging spectroscopy holds the potential to collect this information from intact soil samples with a high spatial resolution of 53×53 µm²/pixel. In this study, we mapped physico-chemical soil properties using a hyperspectral vis-NIR camera (spectral resolution 196 bands between 400-1000 nm and spatial resolution of 53×53 µm²/pixel) and combined them with information on soil structure as obtained using X-ray CT (spatial resolution of 19×19×19 µm³/voxel). We used undisturbed soil cylinders (diameter and height 3 cm) from agriculturally reclaimed soils in the open-cast mining area of Garzweiler near Cologne, Germany. First, we scanned the samples with a X-ray CT, and second embedded several slices from the cylinder in resin (polyester) and scanned them with a hyperspectral camera. For the first time image registration of 2D vis-NIR and 3D X-ray CT images was performed in elastix. This allowed us to correlate physico-chemical information on organic and mineral soil materials with structural data. We identified the impact of reclamation management and plant root on soil organic matter accumulation, and their interplay with biopores and soil structural development.


I obtained BSc and MSc degree in Environmental Technology at the University of Tartu (Estonia). During master studies I spent one year at the Kiel University (Germany) as a Kiel City Scholarship holder, which gave me a possibility to expand my knowledge in soil science. During the studies in Kiel my interest in soil science increased and this encouraged me to continue my studies. Currently I am a PhD candicate at the Chair of Soil Science in Technical University of Munich (Germany). In the PhD project I focus on soil structural development after the reclamation of open-cast lignite mining area in West Germany.

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