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Storage and Stability of Organic Carbon in Soils as Related to Depth, Occlusion Within Aggregates, and Attachment to Minerals : Volume 9, Issue 9 (21/09/2012)

By Schrumpf, M.

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Book Id: WPLBN0003985762
Format Type: PDF Article :
File Size: Pages 49
Reproduction Date: 2015

Title: Storage and Stability of Organic Carbon in Soils as Related to Depth, Occlusion Within Aggregates, and Attachment to Minerals : Volume 9, Issue 9 (21/09/2012)  
Author: Schrumpf, M.
Volume: Vol. 9, Issue 9
Language: English
Subject: Science, Biogeosciences, Discussions
Collections: Periodicals: Journal and Magazine Collection, Copernicus GmbH
Publication Date:
Publisher: Copernicus Gmbh, Göttingen, Germany


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Persson, T., Kaiser, K., Guggenberger, G., Kögel-Knabner, I., Schulze, E., & Schrumpf, M. (2012). Storage and Stability of Organic Carbon in Soils as Related to Depth, Occlusion Within Aggregates, and Attachment to Minerals : Volume 9, Issue 9 (21/09/2012). Retrieved from

Description: Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Hans-Knöll-Straße 10, 07745 Jena, Germany. Conceptual models suggest that stability and age of organic carbon (OC) in soil depends on the source of plant litter, occlusion within aggregates, incorporation in organo-mineral complexes, and location within the soil profile. Various tools like density fractionation, mineralization experiments, and radiocarbon analyses have been used to study the importance of these mechanisms. We systematically apply them to a range of European soils to test whether general controls emerge even for soils that vary in vegetation, soil types, parent material, and land use. At each of the 12 study sites, 10 soil cores were sampled in 10 cm depth intervals to 60 cm depth and subjected to density separation. Bulk soil samples and density fractions (free light fractions – fLF, occluded light fractions – oLF, heavy fractions – HF) were analysed for OC, total nitrogen (TN), Δ13C, and Δ14C. Bulk samples were also incubated to determine mineralizable OC.

Declining OC-normalized CO2 release and increasing age with soil depth confirm greater stability of OC in subsoils across sites. Depth profiles of LF-OC matched those of roots, which in turn reflect plant functional types in soil profiles not subject to ploughing. Modern Δ14C signatures and positive correlation between mineralizable C and fLF-OC indicate the fLF is an easily available energy and nutrient source for subsurface microbes. Fossil C derived from the geogenic parent material affected the age of OC especially in the LF at three study sites. The overall importance of OC stabilization by binding to minerals was demonstrated by declining OC-normalized CO2 release rates with increasing contributions of HF-OC to bulk soil OC and the low Δ14C values of HF-OC. The stability of HF-OC was greater in subsoils than in topsoils; nevertheless, a portion of HF-OC was active throughout the profile. The decrease in Δ14C (increase in age) of HF-OC with soil depth was related to soil pH as well as to dissolved OC fluxes. This indicates that dissolved OC translocation contributes to the formation of subsoil HF-OC and shapes the Δ14C profiles. While quantitatively less important than OC in the HF, consistent older ages of oLF-OC than fLF-OC indicate that occlusion of LF-OC in aggregates also contributes to OC stability in subsoils. Overall, our results showed that association with minerals is the most important factor in stabilization of OC in soils.

Storage and stability of organic carbon in soils as related to depth, occlusion within aggregates, and attachment to minerals

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