The Redox Dynamics of Iron in a Seasonally Waterlogged Forest Soil (Chaux Forest, Eastern France) Traced with Rare Earth Element Distribution Patterns

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Marc Steinmann, Anne-Lise Floch, Eric Lucot and Pierre-Marie Badot, CNRS/Université de Franche-Comté, UMR 6249 Chrono-environnement, 25030 Besançon Cedex, France
The oxyhydroxides of iron are common soil minerals and known to control the availability of various major and trace elements essential for biogeochemical processes. We present a study from acidic natural forest soils, where reducing redox conditions due to seasonal waterlogging lead to the dissolution of Fe-oxyhydroxides, and to the release of Fe to soil water. In order to study in detail the mechanism of redox cycling of Fe, we used Rare Earth Element (REE) distribution patterns, because an earlier study has shown that they are a suitable tool to identify trace metal sources during soil reduction in wetland soils (Davranche et al., 2011). The REE patterns of soil leachates obtained with the modified 3-step BCR extraction scheme of Rauret et al., (1999) were compared with those of natural soil water. The adsorbed fractions (F1 leach), the reducible fraction of the deepest soil horizon H4 (F2 leach, 50-120 cm), and the oxidizable fractions of horizons H2 to H4 (F3 leachs, 24-120 cm) yielded REE patterns almost identical to soil water (see figure), showing that the REE and trace metal content of soil water was mainly derived from the F1 pool, and from the F2 and F3 pools of the clay mineral-rich deep soil horizons. In contrast, the F2 leach mobilized mainly Fe-oxyhydroxides associated with organic matter of the surface soil and yielded REE patterns significantly different from those of soil water. These results suggest that the trace metal content of soil water in hydromorphic soils is primarily controlled by the clay fraction of the deeper soil horizons and not by organic matter and related Fe-oxyhydroxides of the surface soil. Additional analyses are in progress in order to verify whether the REE and trace metals of the deeper soil horizons were directly derived from clay minerals or from associated Fe-oxyhydroxide coatings. Refs cited: Davranche et al. (2011), Chem. Geol. 284; Rauret et al. (1999), J. Environ. Monit. 1.