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Soil organic carbon quantity, chemistry and thermal stability in a mountainous landscape: A Rock-Eval pyrolysis survey

Abstract : Mountain soils store huge amounts of carbon which may be highly vulnerable to the strong land use and climate changes that mountain areas currently experience worldwide. Here, we tested the Rock-Eval (RE) pyrolysis as a proxy technique to (i) quantify soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, (ii) bring insights into SOC bulk chemistry and (iii) investigate biogeochemical stability at the landscape scale in a mountain area of the French calcareous Prealps. A total of 109 soils from 11 eco-units representing the variety of ecosystems of the study area were analyzed with RE pyrolysis. RE pyrolysis showed an excellent predictive performance (R2 = 0.99) for SOC content even in calcareous soils. The technique revealed specific chemical fingerprints for some eco-units and soil types, with decreasing hydrogen index values from Anthroposols (425 ± 62 mg HC/g SOC) to Umbrisols, Leptosols (311 ± 49 mg HC/g SOC) and to Cambisols (278 ± 35 mg HC/g SOC), associated with an increase in SOC maturation. Newly developed RE pyrolysis indices revealed the high stability of SOC in most eco-units developed on Cambisols (acidic grasslands, alpine meadows, bushy facies) and a significantly lower stability of SOC in mountain ridges, sheepfold areas and coniferous forest soils. The persistence of SOC in this mosaic of ecosystems may depend not only on its chemistry or thermal stability, but also on local environmental factors such as climatic conditions or pH, especially for high altitude soils. Overall, RE pyrolysis appears as an appropriate tool for landscape scale carbon inventories and could become a standardized proxy for assessing the vulnerability of SOC stocks.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00827441
Contributor : Valérie Casado-Malaizé <>
Submitted on : Wednesday, May 29, 2013 - 11:20:18 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, August 25, 2020 - 6:00:06 PM

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A. Saenger, L. Cécillon, David Sebag, J.J. Brun. Soil organic carbon quantity, chemistry and thermal stability in a mountainous landscape: A Rock-Eval pyrolysis survey. Organic Geochemistry, Elsevier, 2013, 54, pp.101-114. ⟨10.1016/j.orggeochem.2012.10.008⟩. ⟨hal-00827441⟩

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