10 May 2023
 | 10 May 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Non-destructive multi-sensor core logging allows rapid imaging, measurement of bulk density and estimation of ice content in permafrost cores

Joel Pumple, Alistair Monteath, Jordan Harvey, Mahya Roustaei, Alejandro Alvarez, Casey Buchanan, and Duane Froese

Abstract. Permafrost cores provide physical samples that can be used to measure the characteristics of frozen ground. Measurement of core physical properties, however, are typically destructive and time intensive. In this study, multi-sensor core logging (MSCL) is used to provide a rapid, high-resolution, non-destructive method to image and collect the physical properties of permafrost cores, allowing the visualization of cryostructures, measurement of bulk density and magnetic susceptibility, and estimation of volumetric ice content. Six permafrost cores with differing properties were analyzed using MSCL and compared with established destructive analyses to assess the potential of this instrument both in terms of accuracy and relative rate of data acquisition. A calibration procedure is presented for gamma ray attenuation from a 137Cs source that is specific to frozen core materials. This accurately measures bulk density over the wide range of material densities found in permafrost. MSCL bulk density data show strong agreement with destructive analyses based on discrete sample measurements. Bulk density data from the gamma attenuation, along with soil density measurements for different sediment types, are used to estimate volumetric ice content. The results show strong agreement with destructive analyses, illustrating that MSCL can provide accurate non-destructive estimates of ice contents and provide a digital archive of permafrost cores for future applications.

Joel Pumple et al.

Status: open (until 06 Jul 2023)

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Joel Pumple et al.

Joel Pumple et al.


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Short summary
Ice content is a critical variable in the context of thawing permafrost and permafrost cores provide a means to measure the characteristics of frozen ground, however, these measurements are typically destructive and time-intensive. Multi-Sensor Core Logging (MSCL) provides a fast, non-destructive method to image and permafrost cores, measure bulk density, and estimate ice content. The use of MSCL will improve existing digital permafrost archives by adding high quality and reproducible data.