Journal cover Journal topic
The Cryosphere An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/tc-2016-256
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
23 Jan 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is under review for the journal The Cryosphere (TC).
In situ nuclear magnetic resonance response of permafrost and active layer soil in boreal and tundra ecosystems
M. Andy Kass1, Trevor P. Irons2, Burke J. Minsley1, Neal J. Pastick3,4, Dana R. N. Brown5, and Bruce K. Wylie6 1Crustal Geophysics and Geochemistry Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver CO 80225, USA
2Energy and Geoscience Institute, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
3Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies, Inc., Sioux Falls SD 57198, USA
4Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota Twin Cities, St. Paul MN 55108, USA
5Institute of Arctic Biology, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks AK 99775, USA
6Earth Resources Observation and Science Center, US Geological Survey, Sioux Falls SD 57198, USA
Abstract. Characterization of permafrost, particularly warm and near-surface permafrost which can contain significant liquid water, is critical to understanding complex interrelationships with climate change, ecosystems, and disturbances such as wildfires. Understanding the vulnerability and resilience of permafrost requires an interdisciplinary approach, relying on (for example) geophysical investigations, ecological characterization, direct observations, remote sensing, and more. As part of a multi-year investigation into the impacts of wildfires to permafrost, we have collected in situ measurements of the nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) response of active layer and permafrost in a variety of soil conditions, types, and saturations. In this paper, we summarize the NMR data and present quantitative relationships between active layer and permafrost liquid water content and pore sizes. Through statistical analyses and synthetic freezing simulations, we also demonstrate that borehole NMR can image the nucleation of ice within soil pore spaces.

Citation: Kass, M. A., Irons, T. P., Minsley, B. J., Pastick, N. J., Brown, D. R. N., and Wylie, B. K.: In situ nuclear magnetic resonance response of permafrost and active layer soil in boreal and tundra ecosystems, The Cryosphere Discuss., doi:10.5194/tc-2016-256, in review, 2017.
M. Andy Kass et al.
M. Andy Kass et al.
M. Andy Kass et al.

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Short summary
Geophysical methods have wide applications to permafrost studies. We show that borehole nuclear magnetic resonance is a valuable geophysical tool to rapidly characterize the liquid water content and unfrozen pore space in warm permafrost through simulation and field study. This technique can also image the ice nucleation process in situ. This method, applicable in a variety of soil types, can be used for single observations or for time-lapse monitoring of permafrost changes.
Geophysical methods have wide applications to permafrost studies. We show that borehole nuclear...
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