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Pore-size distribution in loamy soils: A comparison between microtomographic and capillarimetric determination methods

Shein, E. V., Skvortsova, E. B., Dembovetskii, A. V., Abrosimov, K. N., Il’in, L. I., Shnyrev, N. A.
Eurasian soil science 2016 v.49 no.3 pp. 315-325
detection limit, equations, hydrology, loam soils, macropores, micro-computed tomography, models, nanopores, silt loam soils, soil sampling
Pore-size distribution in a soddy-podzolic silt loamy soil developing from mantle loesslike loam (Eutric Albic Retisol (Loamic, Cutanic)) was calculated from the water retention curve according to Jurin’s equation and directly determined in microtomographic experiments. Rounded macropores with the diameter of their sections from 75 to 1000 μm predominate in horizontal sections if the studied soil samples. A larger part of the soil pores (>30–35%) belongs to micro- and nanopores, and they cannot be quantitatively determined by the tomographic method, because their sizes are smaller than the detection limit of the applied X-ray microtomography (8.75 μm per pixel). This leads to a significantly larger pore volume determined from the water retention curve in comparison with the “tomographic” pore volume. A comparative analysis of pore-size distribution curves obtained by these methods shows that the major regularities of the pore-size distribution in the range from 30 to 5000 μm are similar in both cases. Fine macropores and, partly, mesopores predominate. Common characteristics of the pore-size distribution curves obtained by these methods, including the coincidence of the peaks, attest to the validity of classical approaches, according to which the hydrology of soil pore space can be perceived as a physical model of cylindrical capillaries of different sizes with capillary-sorbed water.