Association of soil organic matter with metal phases examined by selective dissolution approach: limitations and advantages

Tuesday, 16 December 2014: 2:40 PM
Rota Wagai, NIAES National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, Tsukuba, Japan and Lawrence M Mayer, Univ Maine, Walpole, ME, United States
Positive co-variation of organic matter (OM) with iron and aluminum phases has been known for decades in soil and, in case of OM-Fe, in marine sediments. More recent studies point to the metal control on the mean residence time of organic carbon in soils, suggesting that better understanding of the role of these metal phases and the nature of these organo-metal associations would help to improve the models of soil OM dynamics. We developed a selective dissolution approach to assess these associations (Wagai and Mayer, 2007; Wagai et al., 2013). By taking advantage of well-established extraction techniques that were targeted to dissolve specific metal and aluminosilicate phases in soil, we quantified the amounts of OM co-dissolved by the selective dissolution of these inorganic phases. The inherent limitations in this conceptually simple approach include the presence of C-based compounds (often as complexing agent for metal) in the extractants and the lack of selectivity when dissolving specific inorganic phases. The former was resolved by using nitrogen (N), instead of C, as a surrogate for OM because (i) soil N is mostly present as soil OM with relatively narrow C:N ratio, and (ii) the extractants are N free. We were able to partially overcome the lack of selectivity problem by comparing the co-dissolution of OM from a variety of extractants that use reductive, complexation, and acid/alkaline dissolutions. The potential advantages of our approach include the ability (i) to estimate the contribution of specific inorganic phases to OM stabilization, and (ii) to infer the possible modes of the organo-mineral associations that were extracted from field soils (e.g., adsorptive association vs. coprecipitation of organo-metallic complexes). In this presentation, we will further consider the advantages and limitations of this approach (e.g., methodological cautions), present some of the previous and new findings gained from this approach (including its application to sediments and soil physical fractions), and discuss possible roles of the extractable inorganic phases in OM stabilization.