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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Sahin, H; Dieffenbach, A; Kaupenjohann, M; Pfeiffer, S: Neutralization of atmospheric acid inputs in small spring catchments in the Frankenwald mountains, Germany. Water Air, Water, Air and Soil Pollution, 102, 117-138 (1998)
Investigations on soil and freshwater acidification are usually focused on wellaerated systems. This study deals with the role of reductive processes for the neutralization of acid soil solution within helocrene springs. Two toposequences consisting each of three profiles (forest soil, margin of fen, fen) were established to study the chemistry of the solid phase (soil pH, CEC, pedogenic Feand Aloxides) and the soil solution in two small spring catchments on three dates during 1991 and 1992. Despite high acid inputs and acidified forest soils the pH of the spring outflow is near neutral, and the soil solid phases of the spring fens are not acidified. The results support the following hypothesis: Aluminum with its corresponding anion sulfate is leached with the soil solution into the watersaturated fens. Dissimilatory iron and sulfate reduction take place within the fen and generate alkalinity. Reduced iron either reacts with sulfide to form pyrite or migrates within the fen profile and precipitates in the uppermost, oxic horizons, consuming part of the generated alkalinity. Due to the higher pH values in the fens the incoming aluminum precipitates releasing acidity. The alkalinity generated exceeds the amount of acidity released by oxidation and precipitation of iron and the precipitation of aluminum. A balance of alkalinity consuming and alkalinity generating processes based on solid phases showed that iron and sulfate reduction can account for at least 67% of the neutralization of acidity entering the fen of one of the catchments. Due to shorter water retention times and higher discharge these processes are of minor importance in the other catchment. Key words: acid neutralization, alkalinity balance, ion reduction, spring catchment acidification, sulfate reduction
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