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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract -

Retention of Dissolved Organic Carbon and Sulfate in Aggregated Acid Forest Soils


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 21 No. 4, p. 643-653
    Received: May 1, 1991

    * Corresponding author(s):
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  1. Georg Guggenberger * and
  2. Wolfgang Zech
  1. Department of Soil Science and Soil Geography, Univ. of Bayeuth, P.O. Box 10 12 51, W-8580 Bayreuth, Germany.



Adsorption of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) and sulfate was examined in mineral A and B horizons of aggregated acid forest soils from declining (Oberwarmensteinach) and healthy (Wülfersreuth) Norway spruce [Picae abies (L.) Karst.] stands in northeastern Bavaria, Germany. Adsorption studies were conducted in the laboratory on undisturbed, aggregated soil samples under nonequilibrium conditions using a miscible displacement method. Initial mass relationships suggest a net release of DOC in the A horizons of both stands at all DOC concentration levels added. In contrast, the B horizons retained DOC from solutions containing more than 4 to 5 g C m−3 in the Oberwarmensteinach B horizon, and 2 to 3 g m−3 in the Wülfersreuth B horizon, respectively. These concentrations correspond to mean annual DOC concentrations in the B horizon solutions of both sites. Addition of sulfate (1.60 molc SO4 m−3) significantly reduced DOC retention, suggesting competition between SO4 and parts of DOC for adsorption sites. Retention of sulfate from solution occurred concentrations with more than 0.38 to 0.42 molc SO4 m−3 in Oberwarmensteinach, and 0.25 to 0.31 molc SO4 m−3 in Wülfersreuth, respectively. Compared with batch experiments, the miscible displacement method resulted in lower affinities of the soils for DOC. Reduction of DOC and sulfate retention by the use of the flow-generated technique is due to the consideration of sorption kinetics, which are influenced by soil structure and texture. Although this method underestimates the affinity of a soil for DOC to a certain extent, we suggest that it reflects the situation in the field quite well. Flow-generated experiments showed that the decline phenomena of spruce in Oberwarmensteinach correspond with a reduced potential for DOC retention in the upper B horizon, as well as with lower sulfate retention throughout the profile.

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