X-ray Tomography of soils and rocks

The Rx tomography  (X-Ray Computed Tomography, XRCT) is one of the most powerful to visualize, identify or quantify the 3D internal microstructure of soil or rock sampls.

This non destructive technique has also the advantage to let the sample unchanged relatively to its original state. It can thus be used to monitor internal changes with time (4D monitoring).

The XRCT analysis presents different interests when studying soils or, more generally, geomaterials :

  • identify the soil components and their spatial mutual relationships
  • characterize the spatial distribution of individual components within a soil
  • monitor the natural evolution of the soil microstructure with time
  • monitor the induced evolution of the soil microstructure by any given sollicitation
  • generate numerical models from real soil microstructures

 Realized or under realization projects:

  • charaterization by XRCT of different evolution stages of peat material;
  • analyse bx XRCT of fine alluvial soils (restoration project);
  • analyse of fracture surfaces of various carbonate rock samples;

 Proposed projects:

  • Analyse by XRCT of root adaptation to simulated climatic changes.
  • characterization by XRCT of various stages of organic matter maturation in soils.


Christe, P., Turberg, P., Labiouse, V., Meuli, R., Parriaux, A.,(2010) An X-Ray Computed Tomography based index to characterize the quality of cataclastic carbonate rock samples, Engineering Geology.

Christe, P. (2009) Geological characterization of cataclastic rock samples using medical X-ray computerized tomography : towards a better geotechnical description. EPFL thesis, no 4316 (2009).

Christe, P., Bernasconi, M., Vontobel, P., Turberg, P., Parriaux, A. (2007) Three-dimensional petrographical investigations on borehole rock samples: a comparison between X-ray Computed- and Neutron Tomography, Acta Geotechnica, Vol. 2, Nr. 4, pp. 269-279, 2007.

Contact :

Pascal Turberg (EPFL/ENAC/ECOS)