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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

On Particle-Size Distributions in Soils


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 57 No. 4, p. 883-890
    Received: Oct 17, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Q. Wu,
  2. M. Borkovec  and
  3. H. Sticher
  1. Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), Grabenstrasse 3, 8952 Schlieren, Switzerland



Measurements of soil particle-size distributions have been performed down to 20-nm radius using, beside classical methods such as sieving and sedimentation, mainly static and dynamic light scattering. The number of particles N per unit volume with a radius larger than r was found to follow a power law N α rv with the exponent v = 2.8 ± 0.1. This exponent was observed in all soils investigated and can be interpreted as the fractal dimension of an underlying structure. The power law usually held over two to five decades of length scales. Below the lower cut-off, typically located around 50 to 100 nm, the number of particles (≃ 1016-1019 cm−3) remained roughly constant. Above the upper cut-off, typically between 10 and 5000 µm, the distribution fell off much more steeply, possibly also like a power law with an exponent v = 5.4 ± 0.2.

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