Journal list menu

Volume 70, Issue 5 p. 1719-1730
Biogeochemical processes

Black Carbon Increases Cation Exchange Capacity in Soils

B. Liang

B. Liang

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
J. Lehmann

Corresponding Author

J. Lehmann

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Corresponding author ([email protected])Search for more papers by this author
D. Solomon

D. Solomon

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
J. Kinyangi

J. Kinyangi

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
J. Grossman

J. Grossman

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
B. O'Neill

B. O'Neill

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
J. O. Skjemstad

J. O. Skjemstad

CSIRO Land and Water, Glen Osmond, SA, 5064 Australia

Search for more papers by this author
J. Thies

J. Thies

Dep. of Crop and Soil Sciences, Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY, 14853 USA

Search for more papers by this author
F. J. Luizão

F. J. Luizão

Instituto Nacional de Pesquisa da Amazônia (INPA), 69011-970 Manaus, Brazil

Search for more papers by this author
J. Petersen

J. Petersen

Dep. of Anthropology, Univ. of Vermont, Burlington, VT, 05405 USA

deceased

Search for more papers by this author
E. G. Neves

E. G. Neves

Museu de Arqueologia e Etnologia, Universidade de São Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, 05508-900 Brazil

Search for more papers by this author
First published: 01 September 2006
Citations: 1,497

Abstract

Black Carbon (BC) may significantly affect nutrient retention and play a key role in a wide range of biogeochemical processes in soils, especially for nutrient cycling. Anthrosols from the Brazilian Amazon (ages between 600 and 8700 yr BP) with high contents of biomass-derived BC had greater potential cation exchange capacity (CEC measured at pH 7) per unit organic C than adjacent soils with low BC contents. Synchrotron-based near edge X-ray absorption fine structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy coupled with scanning transmission X-ray microscopy (STXM) techniques explained the source of the higher surface charge of BC compared with non-BC by mapping cross-sectional areas of BC particles with diameters of 10 to 50 μm for C forms. The largest cross-sectional areas consisted of highly aromatic or only slightly oxidized organic C most likely originating from the BC itself with a characteristic peak at 286.1 eV, which could not be found in humic substance extracts, bacteria or fungi. Oxidation significantly increased from the core of BC particles to their surfaces as shown by the ratio of carboxyl-C/aromatic-C. Spotted and non-continuous distribution patterns of highly oxidized C functional groups with distinctly different chemical signatures on BC particle surfaces (peak shift at 286.1 eV to a higher energy of 286.7 eV) indicated that non-BC may be adsorbed on the surfaces of BC particles creating highly oxidized surface. As a consequence of both oxidation of the BC particles themselves and adsorption of organic matter to BC surfaces, the charge density (potential CEC per unit surface area) was greater in BC-rich Anthrosols than adjacent soils. Additionally, a high specific surface area was attributable to the presence of BC, which may contribute to the high CEC found in soils that are rich in BC.