Aeolian dust deposition is an important phosphorus (P) input to terrestrial ecosystems, but its influence on P dynamics during long-term ecosystem development remains poorly understood. In this study, we characterized P speciation using P K-edge XANES spectroscopy in surface soils (0–15 cm, A horizon) and contemporary aeolian dust collected at each site of a 3000-ky volcanic soil chronosequence in a cool, semi-arid environment. Phosphorus speciation in dust was dominated by calcium-bound P (Ca-P; 54–74%), with 11–23% iron and aluminum-bound P [(Fe + Al)-P] and 7–25% organic P (Po). In soils, Po contributed 1–23% of total P, being greater in older soils; however, the proportions of Ca-P (16–39%) and (Fe + Al)-P (48–82%) fluctuated with increasing weathering over the soil chronosequence. These soil fluctuations resulted from the accumulation and preservation of alkaline aeolian dust during pedogenesis in the semi-arid climate, which significantly increased soil Ca-P while decreasing the total amounts and relative abundances of soil (Fe + Al)-P. We suggest that the effects of an aeolian dust input on soil P transformations are functions of the relative magnitude and chemical composition of the dust input and the soil weathering intensity. For a given source of dust, when the net dust flux is greater than the weathering rate, dust accumulates and thus alters the pattern of P transformations during pedogenesis; otherwise, the dust influence on soil P transformations is negligible. By accurately identifying the chemical nature of P pools, our work highlights the advantage of P K-edge XANES spectroscopy over chemical extractions in examining soil P dynamics, and demonstrates how dust inputs can modify the Walker and Syers model of pedogenic P transformations in semi-arid environments. Overall, this work provides a foundation for understanding how dust influences P cycling during soil and ecosystem development, and indicates that dust inputs and composition, and the soil weathering rate, all must be considered for developing integrated climate-biogeochemical models with predictive power in terrestrial ecosystems.
Gu, C.; Hart, S.C.; Turner, B.L.; Hu, Y.; Meng, Y.; Zhu, M. (2019): Aeolian dust deposition and the perturbation of phosphorus transformations during long-term ecosystem development in a cool, semi-arid environment. Geochemica et Cosmochimica Acta, 246, 498-514. DOI: 10.1016/j.gca.2018.12.017
This Paper/Book acknowledges NSF CZO grant support.