20 Sep 2021
20 Sep 2021
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal SOIL.

An Open Soil Structure Library based on X-ray CT data

Ulrich Weller1, Lukas Albrecht2, Steffen Schlüter1, and Hans-Jörg Vogel1,3 Ulrich Weller et al.
  • 1Department of Soil System Science, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Theodor-Lieser-Str. 4, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
  • 2Agroscope, Agroecology and Environment, Soil Quality and Soil Use, Reckenholzstrasse 191, 8046 Zurich, Switzerland
  • 3Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, Institute of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, Von-Seckendorff-Platz 3, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany

Abstract. Soil structure in terms of the spatial arrangement of pores and solid is highly relevant for most physical, biochemical processes in soil. While this is known for long a scientific approach to quantify soil structural characteristics was also missing for long. This was due to its buried nature but also due to the three-dimensional complexity.

During the last two decades, tools to acquire full 3D images of undisturbed soil became more and more available and a number of powerful software tools were developed to reduce the complexity to a set of meaningful numbers. However, the standardization of soil structure analysis for a better comparability of the results is not well developed and the accessibility of required computing facilities and software is still limited. At this stage we introduce an open access Soil Structure Library ( which offers well-defined soil structure analyses for X-ray CT data sets uploaded by interested scientists. At the same time, the aim of this library is to serve as an open data source for real pore structures as developed in a wide spectrum of different soil types under different site conditions all over the globe. By combining pore structure metrics with essential soil information requested during upload (e.g. bulk density, texture, organic carbon content\ldots), this Soil Structure Library can be harnessed towards data mining and development of soil structure based pedotransfer functions.

In this paper we describe the architecture of the Soil Structure Library and the provided metrics. This is complemented by an example how the data base can be used to address new research questions.

Ulrich Weller et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on soil-2021-96', Anonymous Referee #1, 18 Jan 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ulrich Weller, 20 May 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on soil-2021-96', Anonymous Referee #2, 13 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Ulrich Weller, 20 May 2022

Ulrich Weller et al.

Ulrich Weller et al.


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Short summary
Soil structure is of central importance for soil functions. It is, however, ill defined. With the increasing availability of X-ray CT scanners more and more soils are scanned and an undisturbed image of the soil's structure is produced. Often a qualitative description is all that is derived from these images. We provide now a web based soil structure library where these images can be evaluated in a standardised quantitative way, and can be compared to a world-wide data set.