Millennia-old organic carbon in a boreal paleosol: chemical properties and their link to mineralizable carbon fraction
2016 (English)In: Journal of Soils and Sediments, ISSN 1439-0108, E-ISSN 1614-7480, Vol. 16, no 1, 85-94 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Little is known about the biogeochemical properties of millennia-old soil organic matter (SOM) in boreal forest paleosols and whether these properties contribute to the persistence of several millennia-old SOM. In this study, we assessed the physicochemical properties of a well-drained paleosol and looked for links between these properties and the mineralizable carbon (C) fraction. We studied a well-drained paleosol located under a typical forest podzol in Northern Sweden, in which up to 7-kyr-old SOM was preserved according to C-14 dating. We assessed the elemental compositions of the outermost 2-mu m and 10-nm soil particle surfaces by using energy-dispersive X-ray scanning electron microscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, respectively. We also conducted a 5-week laboratory incubation of samples from both the paleosol and the podzol to quantify their mineralizable C fractions and analyzed the thermal stability of soil samples before and after incubation by using temperature-programmed desorption coupled with mass spectrometry techniques. Proxies for weathering (i.e., total mineral surface area and Al/Si and Fe/Si ratios of particle surfaces) suggested that the paleosol was at the same weathering stage as the contemporary forming podzol. Mineral soil particle surfaces of both the paleosol and podzol were dominated by aliphatic and ether/alcohol C functional groups. The incubation and thermal analysis showed that the mineralizable C fraction of the paleosol was smaller than that of the podzol, and losses of thermally labile SOM due to microbial degradation during the incubations were only detected in the mineral free O horizon of the podzol. Moreover, the mineralizable C fraction of the sampled podzol-paleosol sequence was correlated to the proportion of ether/alcohol C functional groups at the outermost 10-nm soil particle surfaces. Based on the links between microbial decomposition and the chemistry of soil particle surfaces and the thermal stability difference between organic and mineral soils induced by microbial decomposition, we conclude that the intrinsic chemical properties of SOM and its chemical surroundings is important for SOM preservation over a millennia timescale in the studied soil.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 16, no 1, 85-94 p.
Boreal, Carbon, Soil organic matter, Stability, TPD, XPS
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-116094DOI: 10.1007/s11368-015-1197-0ISI: 000367893100008OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-116094DiVA: diva2:901546