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Characterization of Porous Snow with SEM and Micro CT


Traditionally, firn has been characterized using quantitative optical microscopy or stereology paired with thin-sectioning techniques utilizing infiltration with a polymer. In practice these methods are low resolution, time consuming and involve complex and destructive specimen preparation. By using a scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with a low temperature stage to view firn one can obtain images at high resolution. Crystallographic information and the compositions of impurities can also be acquired through the use of electron back-scattered patterns and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy in the SEM, respectively. Three-dimensional images of the pore structure in firn specimens can be obtained through the use of a micro X-ray computed tomography. By pairing the SEM and micro CT it is possible to compare data between the two media.