Weathering controls on mechanisms of carbon storage in grassland soils Page: 2 of 30
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On a sequence of soils developed under similar vegetation, temperature and
precipitation conditions, but with variations in mineralogical properties, we use organic
carbon and 14C inventories to examine mineral protection of soil organic carbon. In these
soils, 14C data indicates that the creation of slow-cycling carbon can be modeled as
occurring through reaction of organic ligands with Al3 and Fe3+ cations in the upper
horizons, followed by sorption to amorphous inorganic Al compounds at depth. Only one
of these processes, the chelation of Al3 and Fe3+ by organic ligands, is linked to large
carbon stocks. Organic ligands stabilized by this process traverse the soil column as
dissolved organic carbon (both from surface horizons and root exudates). At our moist
grassland site, this chelation and transport process is very strongly correlated with the
storage and long-term stabilization of soil organic carbon.
Our 14C results show that the mechanisms of organic carbon transport and storage
at this site follow a classic model previously believed to only be significant in a single
soil order (Spodosols), and closely related to the presence of forests. The presence of this
process in the grassland Alfisol, Inceptisol, and Mollisol soils of this chronosequence
suggests that this process is a more significant control on organic carbon storage than
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Masiello, C.A.; Chadwick, O.A.; Southon, J.; Torn, M.S. & Harden, J.W. Weathering controls on mechanisms of carbon storage in grassland soils, article, September 1, 2004; Berkeley, California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc780503/m1/2/: accessed October 16, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.