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Estimation of slow- and fast-cycling soil organic carbon pools from 6N HCI hydrolysis




Leavitt, S. W., author
Follett, R. F., author
Paul, E. A., author
Arizona Board of Regents (University of Arizona), publisher

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Acid hydrolysis is used to fractionate the soil organic carbon pool into relatively slow- and fast-cycling compartments on soils from Arizona, the Great Plains states and Michigan collected for carbon isotope tracer studies related to soil carbon sequestration, for studies of shifts in C3/C4 vegetation, and for "pre-bomb" soil-carbon inventories. Prior to hydrolysis, soil samples are first treated with cold 0.5-1N HCl to remove soil carbonates if necessary. Samples are then dispersed in a concentrated NaCI solution (p~1.2 g cm-3) and floated plant fragments are skimmed off the surface. After rinsing and drying, all remaining recognizable plant fragments are picked from the soil under 20x magnification. Plant-free soils, and hot, 6NHCl acid-hydrolysis residue and hydrolyzate fractions are analyzed for carbon content, δ 13C and 14C age, and the carbon distribution is verified within 1-2% by stable-carbon isotope mass balance. On average, the recalcitrant residue fraction is 1800 year older and 2.6‰ more 13C-depleted than total soil organic carbon. A test of hydrolysis with fresh plant fragments produced as much as 71-76% in the acid-hydrolysis residue pool. Thus, if plant fragments are not largely removed prior to hydrolysis, the residue fraction may date much younger than it actually is.


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soil dynamics
carbon cycling
soil carbon pools


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