EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

New opportunities to unravel the microarchitecture of soil organo-mineral associations by NanoSIMS using the upgraded Oxygen source

Carmen Höschen1, Steffen Schweizer1, and Ingrid Kögel-Knabner1,2
Carmen Höschen et al.
  • 1Soil Science, TUM School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, 85354 Freising-Weihenstephan, Germany
  • 2Institute for Advanced Study, Technical University of Munich, 85748 Garching, Germany

Organic matter (OM) and soil mineral constituents interact closely at the submicron scale forming structural units and providing biogeochemical interfaces. Soil structure itself plays a key role for carbon storage, microbial activity and soil fertility and pollutant mitigation. A better understanding to which extent biogeochemical processes and interactions in the soil are driven by the spatial arrangement of OM and mineral constituents requires advanced efforts to apply novel microspectroscopy approaches.

NanoSIMS, allowing unique elemental and isotopic analyses at nanometer spatial resolution, provide valuable insights into the architecture of soil organo-mineral constituents and crucial processes taking place at the microscale.

The instrument is equipped with two ion sources: the Cesium source (Cs+) convenient to detect ions related to organic matter distribution and the Oxygen source (O-) favourable to provide information on mineral phases or metals in samples. With a spatial resolution similar to the Cesium source and high stability, the upgraded radio frequency (RF) plasma Oxygen source  recently installed at the TUM is now best suited for novel analytical approaches to probe elemental and isotopic composition of soil organo-mineral constituents in soils at the microscale.

We will show examples of how the two primary ion sources, single or correlatively applied, enable novel experimental designs in soil biogeochemistry. Novel combinations of the OM distribution (12C, 13C and 14N, 15N) detected by the Cs+ source with the distribution of e.g. Si, Al, Fe, Ca, Mg, K, and Na of minerals as revealed by the O- source are now possible.

Post-processing tools for unsupervised clustering and supervised segmentation facilitate the comparison and quantitative analysis of the spatial architecture within intact soil structures. These ongoing developed tools can contribute to the extent of our understanding of biogeochemical processes taking place at organo-mineral and mineral-mineral interfaces in soil systems at the microscale.

How to cite: Höschen, C., Schweizer, S., and Kögel-Knabner, I.: New opportunities to unravel the microarchitecture of soil organo-mineral associations by NanoSIMS using the upgraded Oxygen source, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5864,, 2023.