The Surface Area of Soil Organic Matter

Cary T. Chiou, Jiunn Fwu Lee, Stephen A. Boyd

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Citations (Scopus)


The previously reported surface area for soil organic matter (SOM) of 560-800 m2/g as determined by the ethylene glycol (EG) retention method was reexamined by the standard BET method based on nitrogen adsorption at liquid nitrogen temperature. Test samples consisted of two high organic content soils, a freeze-dried soil humic acid, and an oven-dried soil humic acid. The measured BET areas for these samples were less than 1 m2/g, except for the freeze-dried humic acid. The results suggest that surface adsorption of nonionic organic compounds by SOM is practically insignificant in comparison to uptake by partition. The discrepancy between the surface areas of SOM obtained by BET and EG methods was explained in terms of the “free surface area” and the “apparent surface area” associated with these measurements.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1164-1166
Number of pages3
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1990 Aug 1

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry


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