Wood examinations

Many species of wood has the great advantage of having a distinct chronology, making them useful for some applications that need temporal information. For example, the maximum density of each year ring is the proxy that shows the best correlation to summer temperature. It offers higher correlation than the traditional year ring width measurements, but also better temperature correlation than isotope analysis etc. It has been shown that good climate reconstructions can be done also on wood grown away from the timber line (Helama et. al. See Articles for full reference).

In forestry, aspects of wood studies include understanding and prediction of wood formation and wood properties and how they are affected by silviculture measures, genetic breeding programs and long term changes in growth conditions such as climate change. Here, the Multiscanner offers possibilities to do analyses on intra-annual ring level and relate them to detailed weather and growth conditions like water and nutrients, incidence of snow and wind damage as well as damages from insects, pathogenic fungi etc. XRF analysis of wood with the Multiscanner allows for determination of a range of elements, including Mg, Al, Si, P, S, Cl, K, Ca, Ti, V, Fe, Ni, Cu, Zn, As, Rb, and Sr. Sometimes, other elements including Ba, V, Ni, Pb and elements from industrial pollution can be detected. The excellent precision and repeatability of each analysis makes data trustworthy and useful.


In this photo, a pine lath placed in the Multiscanner sample holder is shown in colour on a black background. Overlaid on that is the density image in greyscale, with the Ca profile of that sample overlaid in blue. The images and data were collected with the Multiscanner. The scan spotsize and stepsize was 50 micrometers.

In environmental monitoring and environmental forensics, XRF analysis is a tool that offers a very attractive combination of sensitivity, high lateral analytical resolution and reproducibility. The non-destructive aspect just adds to it. XRF applications of wood also involve determination of year ring width in wood species with obscure year rings, like many tropical trees. Here, Ca has been shown to be a good marker that distintly shows year ring boundries and separate true and false year rings. The elements that can be detected with XRF in wood seem to be fixed in their position, so that the time for uptake can be determined long after.

A methodological guide has been published by an international scientific research program “Pollution Investigation By Trees, PIT (2015)”, and describes applications within the field of elemental analysis of wood with the purpose of investigations of pollution in detail. This guide can be downloaded in the Download area.

Articles on wood applications can be found under Articles in the main menu.