Estimation of Slow- and Fast-Cycling Soil Organic Carbon Pools from 6N HCl Hydrolysis
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CitationLeavitt, S. W., Follett, R. F., & Paul, E. A. (1996). Estimation of slow-and fast-cycling soil organic carbon pools from 6N HCl hydrolysis. Radiocarbon, 38(2), 231-239.
AbstractAcid hydrolysis is used to fractionate the soil organic carbon pool into relatively slowand fast-cycling compartments on soils from Arizona, the Great Plains states and Michigan collected for carbon isotope tracer studies related to soil carbon sequestration, for studies of shifts in C3/C4 vegetation, and for "pre-bomb" soil-carbon inventories. Prior to hydrolysis, soil samples are first treated with cold 0.5-1N HCl to remove soil carbonates if necessary. Samples are then dispersed in a concentrated NaCI solution (p is roughly equal to 1.2 g cm-3) and floated plant fragments are skimmed off the surface. After rinsing and drying, all remaining recognizable plant fragments are picked from the soil under 20x magnification. Plant-free soils, and hot, 6N HCl acid-hydrolysis residue and hydrolyzate fractions are analyzed for carbon content, delta-13C and 14C age, and the carbon distribution is verified within 1-2% by stable-carbon isotope mass balance. On average, the recalcitrant residue fraction is 1800 yr older and 2.6 per mil more 13C-depleted than total soil organic carbon. A test of hydrolysis with fresh plant fragments produced as much as 71-76% in the acid-hydrolysis residue pool. Thus, if plant fragments are not largely removed prior to hydrolysis, the residue fraction may date much younger than it actually is.