Mineralogical Controls over Carbon Storage and Residence Times in Grassland Soils
Abstract:Globally, soil organic matter (SOM) contains approximately three times more carbon than the atmosphere and terrestrial vegetation contain combined. However, it is not well understood why some SOM persists for a long time while other SOM decomposes quickly. For future climate predictions, representing soil organic matter (SOM) dynamics accurately in Earth system models is essential. Soil minerals stabilize organic carbon in soil; however, there are gaps in our understanding of how soil mineralogy controls the quantity and turnover of long-residence-time organic carbon. To investigate the impact of soil mineralogy on SOM dynamics, we used a new model (Biotic and Abiotic Model of SOM—BAMS1 [Riley et al., 2014]) integrated with a three-dimensional, multiphase reactive transport solver (TOUGHREACT). The model represents bacterial and fungal activity, archetypal polymer and monomer carbon substrate groups, aqueous chemistry, gaseous diffusion, aqueous advection and diffusion, and adsorption and desorption processes. BAMS1 can predict bulk SOM and radiocarbon signatures without resorting to an arbitrary depth-dependent decline in SOM turnover rates. Results show a reasonable match between observed and simulated depth-resolved SOM and ∆14C in grassland ecosystems (soils formed on terraces south of Eureka, California, and the Central Chernozem Region of Russia) and were consistent with expectations of depth-resolved profiles of lignin content and fungi:aerobic bacteria ratios. Results also suggest that clay-mineral surface area and soil sorption coefficients constitute dominant controls over organic carbon stocks and residence times, respectively.
Riley, W.J., F.M. Maggi, M. Kleber, M.S. Torn, J.Y. Tang, D. Dwivedi, and N. Guerry (2014), Long residence times of rapidly decomposable soil organic matter: application of a multi-phase, multi-component, and vertically resolved model (BAMS1) to soil carbon dynamics, Geoscientific Model Development, vol. 7, 1335-2014, doi:10.5194/gmd-7-1335-2014.