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The influence of weathering processes on labile and stable organic matter in Mediterranean volcanic soils


Barbera, V; Raimondi, S; Egli, M; Plötze, M (2008). The influence of weathering processes on labile and stable organic matter in Mediterranean volcanic soils. Geoderma, 143(1-2):191-205.

Abstract

The relationship and mechanisms among weathering processes, cation fluxes, clay mineralogy, organic matter composition and stability were studied in soils developing on basaltic material in southern Italy (Sicily). The soils were transitions between Phaeozems and Vertisols. Intense losses of the elements Na, Ca and Mg were measured indicating that weathering has occurred over a long period of time. The main weathering processes followed the sequence: amphibole, mica, volcanic glass or if ash was the primary source → smectite → interstratified smectite–kaolinite → kaolinite. Kaolinite formation was strongly related to high Al, Mg and Na losses. The good correlation between oxyhydroxides and kaolinite in the soils suggests that (macro)aggregates have formed due to physical or electrostatic interactions between the 1:1 clay minerals and oxides. The stability of organic matter was investigated with a H2O2-treatment that assumes that chemical oxidation mimics the natural oxidative processes. The ratio of C after the H2O2 treatment to the total organic C ranged from 1–28%. No correlation between clay content and organic matter (labile or stable fraction) was found. The refractory organic fraction was enriched in aliphatic compounds and did not greatly interact with the kaolinite, smectite or poorly crystalline Fe or Al phases. A part of this fraction (most probably proteins) was bound to crystalline Fe-oxides. In contrast, the oxidisable fraction showed a strong relationship with poorly crystalline oxyhydroxides and kaolinite. Surprisingly, smectite did not contribute to the stabilisation of any of the organic C fractions. The stabilisation of organic matter in the soils has, therefore, two main mechanisms: 1) the protection of labile (oxidisable with H2O2) organic matter, including also aromatic-rich compounds such as charcoal, by the formation of aggregates with oxyhydroxides and kaolinite and 2) the formation of a refractory fraction enriched in aliphatic compounds.

The relationship and mechanisms among weathering processes, cation fluxes, clay mineralogy, organic matter composition and stability were studied in soils developing on basaltic material in southern Italy (Sicily). The soils were transitions between Phaeozems and Vertisols. Intense losses of the elements Na, Ca and Mg were measured indicating that weathering has occurred over a long period of time. The main weathering processes followed the sequence: amphibole, mica, volcanic glass or if ash was the primary source → smectite → interstratified smectite–kaolinite → kaolinite. Kaolinite formation was strongly related to high Al, Mg and Na losses. The good correlation between oxyhydroxides and kaolinite in the soils suggests that (macro)aggregates have formed due to physical or electrostatic interactions between the 1:1 clay minerals and oxides. The stability of organic matter was investigated with a H2O2-treatment that assumes that chemical oxidation mimics the natural oxidative processes. The ratio of C after the H2O2 treatment to the total organic C ranged from 1–28%. No correlation between clay content and organic matter (labile or stable fraction) was found. The refractory organic fraction was enriched in aliphatic compounds and did not greatly interact with the kaolinite, smectite or poorly crystalline Fe or Al phases. A part of this fraction (most probably proteins) was bound to crystalline Fe-oxides. In contrast, the oxidisable fraction showed a strong relationship with poorly crystalline oxyhydroxides and kaolinite. Surprisingly, smectite did not contribute to the stabilisation of any of the organic C fractions. The stabilisation of organic matter in the soils has, therefore, two main mechanisms: 1) the protection of labile (oxidisable with H2O2) organic matter, including also aromatic-rich compounds such as charcoal, by the formation of aggregates with oxyhydroxides and kaolinite and 2) the formation of a refractory fraction enriched in aliphatic compounds.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Uncontrolled Keywords:Weathering; Mass balance; Clay mineralogy; Organic matter stability; Mediterranean soils; FT-IR spectroscopy
Language:English
Date:15 January 2008
Deposited On:06 Nov 2008 13:33
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:32
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0016-7061
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.geoderma.2007.11.002
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-5027

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