Anion Exchange Capacity As a Mechanism for Deep Soil Carbon Storage in Variable Charge Soils

Monday, 15 December 2014
Christiana Dietzen, Jason Nathaniel James, Marcia Ciol and Robert B Harrison, University of Washington Seattle Campus, Seattle, WA, United States
Soil is the most important long-term sink for carbon (C) in terrestrial ecosystems, containing more C than plant biomass and the atmosphere combined. However, soil has historically been under-represented in C cycling literature, especially in regards to information about subsurface (>1.0 m) layers and processes. Previous research has indicated that Andisols with large quantities of noncrystalline, variable-charge minerals, including allophane, imogolite, and ferrihydrite, contain more C both in total and at depth than other soil types in the Pacific Northwest. The electrostatic charge of variable-charge soils depends on pH and is sometimes net positive, particularly in acid conditions, such as those commonly developed under the coniferous forests of the Pacific Northwest. However, even soils with a net negative charge may contain a mixture of negative and positive exchange sites and can hold some nutrient anions through the anion exchange capacity. To increase our understanding of the effects of variable-charge on soil organic matter stabilization, deep sampling is under way at the Fall River Long-Term Soil Productivity Site in western Washington. This site has a deep, well-drained soil with few rocks, which developed from weathered basalt and is classified as an Andisol of the Boistfort Series. Samples have been taken to a depth of 3 m at eight depth intervals. In addition to analyzing total soil C, these soils will be analyzed to determine functional groups present, cation exchange capacity, anion exchange capacity, and non-crystalline mineral content. These data will be analyzed to determine any correlations that may exist between these mineralogical characteristics, total soil C, and types of functional groups stored at depth. The most abundant organic functional groups, including carboxylic and phenolic groups, are anionic in nature, and soil positive charge may play an important role in binding and stabilizing soil organic matter and sequestering C.