Correlation of soil and sediment organic matter polarity to aqueous sorption of nonionic compounds

Daniel E. Kile, Robert L. Wershaw, Cary T. Chiou

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134 Citations (Scopus)


Polarities of the soiL/sediment organic matter (SOM) in 19 soil and 9 freshwater sediment sam pies were determined from solid-state 13C-CP/MAS NMR spectra and compared with published partition coefficients (K(oc)) of carbon tetrachloride (CT) from aqueous solution. Nondestructive analysis of whole samples by solid-state NMR permits a direct assessment of the polarity of SOM that is not possible by elemental analysis. The percent of organic carbon associated with polar functional groups was estimated from the combined fraction of carbohydrate and carboxylamide-ester carbons. A plot of the measured partition coefficients (K(oc)) of carbon tetrachloride (CT) vs. percent polar organic carbon (POC) shows distinctly different populations of soils and sediments as well as a roughly inverse trend among the soil/sediment populations. Plots of K(oc) values for CT against other structural group carbon fractions did not yield distinct populations. The results indicate that the polarity of SOM is a significant factor in accounting for differences in K(oc) between the organic matter in soils and sediments. The alternate direct correlation of the sum of aliphatic and aromatic structural carbons with K(oc) illustrates the influence of nonpolar hydrocarbon on solute partition interaction. Additional elemental analysis data of selected samples further substantiate the effect of the organic matter polarity on the partition efficiency of nonpolar solutes. The separation between soil and sediment samples based on percent POC reflects definite differences of the properties of soil and sediment organic matters that are attributable to diagenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2053-2056
Number of pages4
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1999 Jun 15

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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