In-situ soil organic matter studies using scanning electron microscopy and low temperature ashing

L. A. Sullivan, A. J. Koppi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)


The in-situ distribution and morphology of organic materials located on, or near, structural surfaces within some soils is examined on a submicroscopic scale by comparing scanning electron microscope images of the same areas of soil samples before and after low temperature ashing. Electron-translucent organic matter coatings up to 1 2 μm thick, and thinner, electron-opaque organic matter coatings were found on structural surfaces within these soils. Oribatid faecal pellets in one of the soils were found to contain aluminosilicate clay minerals. Fine-clay sized spheres of biogenic opaline silica were found to be contained within the epidermis of a decaying root. These studies show that the combined use of low temperature ashing and scanning electron microscopy will be a valuable technique for in-situ investigations of submicroscopic organic matter within soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-332
Number of pages16
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes


Cite this