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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department Soil Ecology - Prof. Dr. Eva Lehndorff

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Rodionov, A; Amelung, W; Haumaier, L; Urusevskaja, I; Zech, W: Black carbon in the zonal steppe soils of Russia, Journal of Plant Nutrition and Soil Science, 169, 363-369 (2006), doi:10.1002/jpln.200521813
Black Mollisols are typically rich in charred organic matter, however, little is known about the zonal distribution of black C (BC) in steppe soils. In this study, we used benzene polycarboxylic acids (BPCA) as specific markers for BC in particle-size fractions of depth profiles in several zonal soils (Greyzem, Phaeozem, Chernozem, Kastanozem) of the Russian steppe. In addition, liquid-state 13C-NMR spectra were obtained on the alkaline-soluble soil organic matter (SOM). The results showed that both the content and depth distribution of BC varies in the different soil types; the concentration of BC in the bulk top soils being closely related to the aromaticity of the SOM (r2 = 0.98 for the native topsoils, 0.83 for top- and subsurface soils). Especially the Chernozems were rich in aromatic SOM, which partly contained more than 17% BC of total C, most of which being allocated in the mineral fractions. Long-term arable cropping did not reduce the BC contents of the surface soil, though it did promote the enrichment of BC in the silt fractions. The same shift was detected as soil depth increased. We conclude that BC is not fully inert in these soils, but apparently can be preserved in the silt as decomposition of SOM increased, i.e., it accumulates exactly in that fraction, which has been formerly assigned to contain old, aromatic C.
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