Peth, S., R. Horn, F. Beckmann, T. Donath, J. Fischer, and A. J. Smucker. 2008. Three-dimensional quantification of intra-aggregate pore-space features using synchrotron-radiation-based microtomography. Soil Science Society of America Journal 72:897-907.
Pore network geometries of intra-aggregate pore spaces are of great importance for water and ion flux rates controlling C sequestration and bioremediation. Advances in non-invasive three-dimensional imaging techniques such as synchrotron-radiation-based x-ray microtomography (SR-μCT), offer excellent opportunities to study the interrelationships between pore network geometry and physical processes at spatial resolutions of a few micrometers. In this paper we present quantitative three-dimensional pore-space geometry analyses of small scale (∼5 mm across) soil aggregates from different soil management systems (conventionally tilled vs. grassland). Reconstructed three-dimensional microtomography images at approximate isotropic voxel resolutions between 3.2 and 5.4 μm were analyzed for pore-space morphologies using a suite of image processing algorithms associated with the software published by Lindquist et al. Among the features quantified were pore-size distributions (PSDs), throat-area distributions, effective throat/pore radii ratios as well as frequency distributions of pore channel lengths, widths, and flow path tortuosities. We observed differences in storage and transport relevant pore-space morphological features between the two aggregates. Nodal pore volumes and throat surface areas were significantly smaller for the conventionally tilled (Conv.T.) aggregate (mode ≈ 7.9 × 10−7 mm3/≈ 63 μm2) than for the grassland aggregate (mode ≈ 5.0 × 10−6 mm3/≈ 400 μm2), respectively. Path lengths were shorter for the Conv.T. aggregate (maximum lengths < 200 μm) compared with the grassland aggregate (maximum lengths > 600 μm). In summary, the soil aggregate from the Conv.T site showed more gas and water transport limiting micromorphological features compared with the aggregate from the grassland management system.
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