Globally, soils store more carbon (C) than the vegetation and the atmosphere combined. Up to 60-80% of the C stored in soils is found in below 30cm soil depth, but there is little data on C storage in weathered bedrock or saprolite. Deep soil organic matter (SOM) can be a mixture of new and old SOM; that is rendered relatively stable due to burial, aggregation, its disconnection from decomposers, and chemical association that organic matter forms with soil minerals. The limited data available on deep SOM dynamics suggests that stock, distribution, and composition of deep SOM are strongly correlated to climate. The overall objective of this research is to investigate how climate regulates OM storage, composition, stability, and stabilization mechanisms. Expecting that the amount of OM stored in deep soil and the stability are a function of soil thickness and availability of weathering products (i.e. reactive minerals), the stock and stability of deep SOM is expected to follow a similar relationship with climate, as does the intensity of weathering. This research is conducted in the NSF funded Southern Sierra Critical Zone Observatories that is located along a climosequence, the western slopes of the Sierra Naevada Mountains of California. Here we will present results derived from characterization of soils and weathered bedrock using elemental and stable isotope elemental analysis, and Fourier Transformed Infrared Spectroscopy to determine OM concentration and functional group level composition of bulk SOM. Our findings show that adding in subsoil and weathered bedrock C stocks increases estimates of soil C stock by 1/3rd to 2/3rd.
Moreland, K. C.; Tian, Z.; Berhe, A. A.; O’geen, A. T. (2017): Deep Soil Carbon in the Critical Zone: Amount and Nature of Carbon in Weathered Bedrock, and its Implication for Soil Carbon Inventory . Fall Meeting, American Geophysical Union, December 2017. Abstract B33G-03..