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Digital Soils: Mineralogy

Digital Soil Mineralogy
"Digital soils at the James Hutton Institute"

Analysis of soils by X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) allows accurate identification and quantification of soil mineral components, with Hutton Scientists world leading in their XRPD methods and expertise. In recent years national scale XRPD datasets have become available, allowing new digital, data-driven, research approaches to be undertaken. Research by the Digital Soil Mineralogy group has proven that the application of data mining and cluster analysis to these XRPD datasets can offer new insights into the way minerals contribute to the many properties and functions of soil. Further to this, the Digital Soil Mineralogy concept has recently been used to identify soils in Scotland with similar mineralogy to Mars. Given the increasing importance of the soil resource and the pressures on it, the approach of Digital Soil Mineralogy offers valuable insight into how minerals (the main components of most soils) contribute to soil functions and how to better manage soils as a result. With effort directed towards standardized and transferable XRPD data allowing the comparison of soils from across the world, Digital Soil Mineralogy is poised to open a new chapter in soil mineralogy research and application. More information is provided on the Digital Soil Mineralogy webpage.

Associated staff:

Benjamin Butler and Steve Hillier

Learning & Resources


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.