There is a growing acceptance that associations with soil minerals may be the most important overarching stabilization mechanism for soil organic matter. However, direct investigation of organo-mineral associations has been hampered by a lack of methods that can simultaneously characterize organic matter (OM) and soil minerals. In this study, STXM-NEXAFS spectroscopy at the C 1s, Ca 2p, Fe 2p, Al 1s, and Si 1s edges was used to investigate C associations with Ca, Fe, Al, and Si species in soil clay fractions from an upland pasture hillslope. Bulk techniques including C and N NEXAFS, Fe K-edge EXAFS spectroscopy, and XRD were applied to provide additional information. Results demonstrated that C was associated with Ca, Fe, Al, and Si with no separate phase in soil clay particles. In soil clay particles, the pervasive C forms were aromatic C, carboxyl C, and polysaccharides with the relative abundance of carboxyl C and polysaccharides varying spatially at the submicrometer scale. Only limited regions in the soil clay particles had aliphatic C. Good C–Ca spatial correlations were found for soil clay particles with no CaCO3, suggesting a strong role of Ca in organo-mineral assemblage formation. Fe EXAFS showed that about 50% of the total Fe in soils was contained in Fe oxides, whereas Fe-bearing aluminosilicates (vermiculite and Illite) accounted for another 50%. Fe oxides in the soil were mainly crystalline goethite and hematite, with lesser amounts of poorly crystalline ferrihydrite. XRD revealed that soil clay aluminosilicates were hydroxy-interlayered vermiculite, Illite, and kaolinite. C showed similar correlation with Fe to Al and Si, implying a similar association of Fe oxides and aluminosilicates with organic matter in organo-mineral associations. These direct microscopic determinations can help improve understanding of organo–mineral interactions in soils.
Chen, C., J. Dynes, J. Wang, T. Regier, C. Karunakaran, and D.L. Sparks (2014): Soft X-ray Spectromicroscopy Study of Mineral-Organic Matter Associations in Pasture Soil Clay Fractions. Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (12), pp 6678–6686. DOI: 10.1021/es405485a
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.