In situ radiometric mapping of soil erosion and field-moist bulk density on cultivated fields



Tyler A, Davidson D & Grieve I (2001) In situ radiometric mapping of soil erosion and field-moist bulk density on cultivated fields. Soil Use and Management, 17 (2), pp. 88-96.;

Recent developments in in situ ray spectrometry offer a new approach to measuring the activity of radionuclides such as 137Cs and 40K in soils, and thus estimating erosion or deposition rates and field moist bulk density (ρm). Such estimates would be rapid and involve minimal site disturbance, especially important where archaeological remains are present. This paper presents the results of a pilot investigation of an eroded field in Scotland in which a portable hyper pure germanium (HPGe) detector was used to measure ray spectra in situ. The gamma photon flux observed at the soil surface is a function of the 137Cs inventory, its depth distribution characteristics and ρm. A coefficient, QCs, derived from the forward scattering of 137Cs ray photons within the soil profile relative to the 137Cs full energy peak (662 keV), was used to correct the in situ calibration for changes in the 137Cs vertical distribution in the ploughed field, a function of tillage, soil accumulation and ρm. Based on only 8 measurements, the agreement between in situ ray spectrometry and soil sample measurements of 137Cs inventories improved from a non significant r2=0.05 to a significant r2=0.62 (P less than 0.05). Erosion and deposition rates calculated from the corrected in situ137Cs measurements had a similarly good agreement with those calculated from soil cores. Mean soil bulk density was also calculated using a separate coefficient, QK, derived from the forward scattering photons from 40K within the soil relative to the 40K full energy peak (1460 keV). Again there was good agreement with soil core measurements (r2=0.64; P less than 0.05). The precision of the in situ137Cs measurement was limited by the precision with which QCs can be estimated, a function of the low 137Cs deposition levels associated with the weapons testing fallout and relatively low detector efficiency (35%). In contrast, the precision of the in situ ρm determination was only limited by the spatial variability associated with soil sampling.

erosion; mapping; radionuclides; caesium; soil; soil water; bulk density

Soil Use and Management: Volume 17, Issue 2

Publication date30/06/2001
Publication date online19/01/2006
Publisher URL…01.tb00013.x/pdf

People (2)


Professor Donald Davidson

Professor Donald Davidson

Emeritus Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Andrew Tyler

Professor Andrew Tyler

Scotland Hydro Nation Chair, Biological and Environmental Sciences