NMR Solutions for Soil and Core

Man-portable NMR Geophysical Instruments for Soil, Sediment and Core Measurements

Vista Clara’s family of man-portable NMR tools enable direct measurement of volumetric water content and high-resolution pore-scale analysis of soils, sediments and core samples. These tools are all man-portable and designed for use in the field.

  • The Helios™ Soil and Core Sample Analyzer enables measurement of a wide range of soil and core samples, with diameters up to 4 inches, and with a unique combination of short echo spacing, wide bandwidth and low static field strength to mitigate the effects of magnetically susceptible rocks and soils 
  • The Discus™ sensor provides rapid, non-invasive measurement of near surface soil moisture content, with the ability to profile water content in four separate depth zones ranging from 1 inch to 8 inches (2.5 to 20 cm). The Discus uses a battery-powered NMR control unit, that can be carried in one hand and operated outdoors in all weather conditions

These man-portable instruments provide direct, low-cost, high-resolution measurements of hydrogeological properties that users really care about, including:

  • Volumetric water content
  • Pore size distribution
  • Bound and mobile porosity
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Transmissivity

A single NMR log can provide all of these key hydrogeological properties at vertical resolution on the order of 25 to 50 centimeters (10 to 20 inches), enabling unambiguous and precise characterization of the water storage and pore structure characteristics of any earth formations.


Field portable NMR analyzer optimized for soils and core samples

Helios NMR measurements enable rapid quantification of fluid content and hydrogeologic properties including the total porosity, bound/mobile fluid fractions, pore size distribution, and permeability. Helios’ unique design features allow robust measurements of hydrologic properties over a wide range of core size and lithology.

Helios key capabilities include:

  • Laboratory precision in a field portable, lightweight rugged design
  • Handles soil and rock cores in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
  • Low-field, high-bandwidth operation enables accurate measurement of water content in magnetically susceptible rocks and sediments
  • Short echo spacing (~200 us) enables high SNR and high accuracy measurement of water in clays and unsaturated samples

Helios Applications:

  • Water resources
    • Determination of bound/mobile water fractions
    • Estimation of hydraulic conductivity
    • Development of NMR logging permeability models
  • Mining – moisture content in ore cuttings and core samples
  • Environmental remediation – detailed analysis of water-bearing properties of core samples
  • Geotechnical

Features included in Helios are patented as follows:: US 10,302,733

For More Info:
Download Helios Specifications Sheet


Non-invasive, non-radioactive-source soil moisture measurement

Discus NMR Control Unit:

This rugged and highly portable product functions as a complete, field capable NMR spectrometer. The Discus control unit provides power, wideband RF power amplification, NMR pulse sequence generation and synchronous low-noise NMR signal data acquisition, all in one environmentally-sealed enclosure. This unit interfaces with a Windows field tablet or laptop via a single USB connection, enabling NMR measurements to be acquired and analyzed in real time in the field.

Discus delivers fast, accurate, and non-invasive measurements of soil moisture and texture from the surface, removing the need for sample extraction, calibration, or radioactive sources. Discus provides determination of soil moisture (water content) at four discrete depth intervals, ranging from 1 inch to 8 inches (2.5 to 20 cm). The NMR relaxation time distribution also indicates the pore size distribution and soil characteristics.

Key capabilities of Discus include:

  • Direct quantification of soil moisture
  • Completely non-invasive investigations
  • No radioactive sources or licensing
  • No soil-specific calibration for moisture content
  • Fast measurement time (3-10 minutes)
  • Measurement results available immediately in the field
  • Bound versus mobile water classification
  • Estimation of permeability & pore size
  • Ability to non-invasively measure soil water content beneath asphalt and stonework

A number of the features included in Discus are patented as follows:: US 10,302,733, US 8,816,684 B2

For More Info:
Download Discus Specifications Sheet


For a list of other resources: visit our Reference Library