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The particle-size distribution for the fine-grained fraction of eleven soil samples was determined using four commercially available, state-of-the-art automated particle-size distribution analysis instruments. Two of the instruments operate on the principle of interaction of laser light with soil particles suspended in water in a highly agitated state, and two operate on the principle of the absorption of an X-ray beam by a suspension of soil particles settling in a quiescent column of water. The results from each instrument for each soil sample were compared to size analysis data determined by the hydrometer technique. The X-ray absorption instruments produced particle-size distributions very close to those of the hydrometer method, with the exception of soils with high mica concentrations. The laser-based instrument data did not agree as well with the hydrometer data, although for soils with significant mica contents the results were closer than the results from the X-ray absorption instruments. Based on these results, however, it appears that the automated X-ray absorption/sedimentation-based instruments show promise as alternatives or as a possible supplement for the manual hydrometer method of size analysis for soils without significant mica particle concentrations.
Assistant professor, Michigan Technological University, Houghton, MI
Associate professor, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Stock #: GTJ11421J