19 Apr 2022
19 Apr 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Brief communication: Unravelling the composition and microstructure of a permafrost core using X-ray computed tomography

Jan Nitzbon1, Damir Gadylyaev1,3, Steffen Schlüter2, John Maximilian Köhne2, Guido Grosse1,3, and Julia Boike1,4 Jan Nitzbon et al.
  • 1Permafrost Research Section, Alfred Wegener Institute Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 2Department of Soil System Science, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Halle (Saale), Germany
  • 3Institute of Geosciences, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
  • 4Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany

Abstract. The microstructure of permafrost ground contains clues to its formation and hence its preconditioning to future change. We applied X-ray computed tomography (CT) to obtain high-resolution data (Δx=50 µm) of the composition of a 164 cm long permafrost core drilled in a Yedoma upland in northeastern Siberia. The CT analysis allowed to directly map and quantify excess ice, gas inclusions, and two distinct sediment phases. Using laboratory measurements of coarsely-resolved core samples, we statistically estimated the composition of the sediment phases and indirectly quantified pore ice, organic, and mineral contents. We conclude that CT is a promising method for obtaining physical properties of permafrost cores which opens novel research potentials.

Jan Nitzbon et al.

Status: open (until 28 Jun 2022)

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Jan Nitzbon et al.

Data sets

Laboratory-measured and X-ray CT-derived volumetric composition of a permafrost core Nitzbon, Jan; Gadylyaev, Damir; Schlüter, Steffen; Köhne, John Maximilian; Grosse, Guido; Boike, Julia

Jan Nitzbon et al.


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Short summary
Permafrost soils contain various constituents like ice or organic matter. We used X-ray computed tomography to measure the composition of a permafrost drill core from northeastern Siberia. From the CT images, we determined the structures and the volumetric proportions of pure ice, gas, and sediment in the core. We further measured the sediment's contents of pore ice, mineral, and organic matter in a laboratory. By combining these techniques, we obtained a very detailed composition of the core.