Publication Details

Reference Category Journals
DOI / URL link
Document Shareable Link
Title (Primary) Rapid soil formation after glacial retreat shaped by spatial patterns of organic matter accrual in microaggregates
Author Schweizer, S.A.; Hoeschen, C.; Schlüter, S.; Kögel-Knabner, I.; Mueller, C.W.;
Journal Global Change Biology
Year 2018
Department BOSYS;
Volume 24
Issue 4
Language englisch;
POF III (all) T31;
Keywords biogeochemical soil interfaces; glacier forefield; mineral‐associated organic matter; nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry; organic coating; organo‐mineral associations; soil carbon sequestration; spatial complexity
UFZ wide themes RU1;
Abstract Global change contributes to the retreat of glaciers at unprecedented rates. The deglaciation facilitates biogeochemical processes on glacial deposits with initiating soil formation as an important driver of evolving ecosystems. The underlying mechanisms of soil formation and the association of soil organic matter (SOM) with mineral particles remain unclear, although further insights are critical to understand carbon sequestration in soils. We investigated the microspatial arrangement of SOM coatings at intact soil microaggregate structures during various stages of ecosystem development from 15 to >700 years after deglaciation in the proglacial environment of the Damma glacier (Switzerland). The functionally important clay‐sized fraction (<2 μm) was separated into two density fractions with different amounts of organo‐mineral associations: light (1.6–2.2 g/cm3) and heavy (>2.2 g/cm3). To quantify how SOM extends across the surface of mineral particles (coverage) and whether SOM coatings are distributed in fragmented or connected patterns (connectivity), we developed an image analysis protocol based on nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS). We classified SOM and mineral areas depending on the 16O, 12C, and 12C14N distributions. With increasing time after glacial retreat, the microspatial coverage and connectivity of SOM increased rapidly. The rapid soil formation led to a succession of patchy distributed to more connected SOM coatings on soil microaggregates. The maximum coverage of 55% at >700 years suggests direct evidence for SOM sequestration being decoupled from the mineral surface, as it was not completely masked by SOM and retained its functionality as an ion exchange site. The chemical composition of SOM coatings showed a rapid change toward a higher CN:C ratio already at 75 years after glacial retreat, which was associated with microbial succession patterns reflecting high N assimilation. Our results demonstrate that rapid SOM sequestration drives the microspatial succession of SOM coatings in soils, a process that can stabilize SOM for the long term.
ID 20066
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Schweizer, S.A., Hoeschen, C., Schlüter, S., Kögel-Knabner, I., Mueller, C.W. (2018):
Rapid soil formation after glacial retreat shaped by spatial patterns of organic matter accrual in microaggregates
Glob. Change Biol. 24 (4), 1637 - 1650