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Snow replica method for three-dimensional X-ray microtomographic imaging

  • Martin Heggli (a1), Esther Frei (a1) and Martin Schneebeli (a1)

Abstract

Visualization and quantification of snow structures at a scale of a few millimetres is important in understanding the mechanical, thermal and electromagnetic properties of snow. Surface sections and, to an even greater degree, three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of cast snow samples are difficult to prepare, and automatic image processing is notoriously difficult and often requires manual evaluation. Here, we present a new method to measure the 3-D structure of cast snow samples. Snow samples cast with diethyl phthalate (DEP) and frozen are cut to a sample size a few centimetres in diameter and up to 10 cm in height. The ice of these samples is then sublimated in high vacuum and the remaining negative structure (replica) is imaged using X-ray microtomography (micro-CT). The accuracy of the method is demonstrated by comparing micro-CT scans of the original snow structure and the replica. The method described here allows easy transportation of samples, requires little manual interaction, has a very high spatial resolution of up to 10 μm and is environmentally friendly.

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References

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