AWI Receive Brand New Geotek RXCT

AWI Receive Brand New Geotek RXCT

In July 2018, the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) received their brand new Rotating X-ray CT system (RXCT) from Geotek Limited, ready for an impressive assortment of continental and marine science research. Most of the research conducted at AWI is performed on split or delicate core samples, as it’s often necessary to split their core samples in the field, meaning they cannot be rotated easily. The RXCT has a flexible X-ray geometry mounted onto a unique rotating gantry, which allows split or delicate cores to undergo X-ray CT scanning at high resolution (50 µm to 250 µm voxel size) regardless of core size or form factor. Furthermore, the cabinet-based design of the system prevents the necessity of a lead-lined room allowing the RXCT to be installed directly within the working laboratories of the institution.

RXCT installed in the AWI Laboratory

The RXCT will embark upon many projects at AWI, including measuring recent drill cores taken from IODP Expedition 374: Ross Sea West Antarctic Ice Sheet History. Many future expeditions with the icebreaker RV Polarstern, and likely other German research vessels will also look to gather invaluable X-ray CT data from the Geotek RXCT. In contrast to polar research, AWI will undertake projects looking at lake sediment cores. Lake sediment cores from Lake Melville, a fjord inlet lake of the Canadian Labrador coast will be retrieved next June/July, and run through the RXCT to uncover exciting, hidden details. AWI has many older cores dating back to the first Polarstern expeditions in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of these cores have been sampled, but the archive half is still there. These archive halves are still in very good shape, and so many of these older cores will be measured with the RXCT.

Scientists at AWI ready to use the RXCT

Importantly the RXCT will replace and significantly improve the previous way of acquiring 2D X-ray radiographs, where biased findings were often introduced into datasets due to the requirement of sub-sampling the larger core section. The RXCT will allow scanning of the whole core/full width reducing/removing the bias from sub-sampling. This is important when scanning core samples from glacial margins where the amount of ice-rafted debris (IRDs) or gravels plays an important part in the scientific objective of understanding past and present climate conditions. The high resolution, full core width X-ray images from the RXCT will for the first time at AWI enable researchers to not only calculate IRD on a count basis, but also in a volumetric way.

Although at this stage the research is focussed on glacial margins, it is envisaged that this new X-ray technology provided by Geotek and complimented by their suite of Multi-Sensor Core Loggers (MSCLs) will reveal new insight into other geological formations samples looking for features such as bedding, lamination, bioturbation, and even plant roots.

For more information on our RXCT system, please get in touch here!