Nature of the clay-cation bond affects soil structure as verified by X-ray computed tomography

Marchuk, Alla and Rengasamy, Pichu and McNeill, Ann and Kumar, Anupama (2012) Nature of the clay-cation bond affects soil structure as verified by X-ray computed tomography. Soil Research, 50 (8). pp. 638-644. ISSN 1838-675X


Non-destructive X-ray computed tomography (μCT) scanning was used to characterise changes in pore architecture as influenced by the proportion of cations (Na, K, Mg, or Ca) bonded to soil particles. These observed changes were correlated with measured saturated hydraulic conductivity, clay dispersion, and zeta potential, as well as cation ratio of structural stability (CROSS) and exchangeable cation ratio. Pore architectural parameters such as total porosity, closed porosity, and pore connectivity, as characterised from μCT scans, were influenced by the valence of the cation and the extent it dominated in the soil. Soils with a dominance of Ca or Mg exhibited a well-developed pore structure and pore interconnectedness, whereas in soil dominated by Na or K there were a large number of isolated pore clusters surrounded by solid matrix where the pores were filled with dispersed clay particles. Saturated hydraulic conductivities of cationic soils dominated by a single cation were dependent on the observed pore structural parameters, and were significantly correlated with active porosity (R2≤0.76) and pore connectivity (R2≤0.97). Hydraulic conductivity of cation-treated soils decreased in the order Ca>Mg>K>Na, while clay dispersion, as measured by turbidity and the negative charge of the dispersed clays from these soils, measured as zeta potential, decreased in the order Na>K>Mg>Ca. The results of the study confirm that structural changes during soil-water interaction depend on the ionicity of clay-cation bonding. All of the structural parameters studied were highly correlated with the ionicity indices of dominant cations. The degree of ionicity of an individual cation also explains the different effects caused by cations within a monovalent or divalent category. While sodium adsorption ratio as a measure of soil structural stability is only applicable to sodium-dominant soils, CROSS derived from the ionicity of clay-cation bonds is better suited to soils containing multiple cations in various proportions.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: © 2012 CSIRO. Permanent restricted access to published version in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Agricultural, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Date Deposited: 02 Sep 2014 00:21
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 05:59
Uncontrolled Keywords: architectural parameters; cation ratio; clay dispersion; clay particles; exchangeable cation; ionicities; isolated pores; multiple cations; negative charge; non destructive; pore architecture; pore connectivity; pore structural parameters; saturated hydraulic conductivity; sodium adsorption ratio; soil particles; soil structural stability; soil-water interaction; solid matrixes; structural change; structural parameter; structural stabilities; total porosity; x-ray computed tomography
Fields of Research : 05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050304 Soil Chemistry (excl. Carbon Sequestration Science)
05 Environmental Sciences > 0503 Soil Sciences > 050305 Soil Physics
08 Information and Computing Sciences > 0801 Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing > 080106 Image Processing
Socio-Economic Objective: D Environment > 96 Environment > 9614 Soils > 961499 Soils not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1071/SR12276

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