Objectives: Alkaline extracts from soils generate operationally-defined isolates that are referred to as "humic substances" but may not relate to a distinct molecular structure within the soil organic matter (SOM) matrix. This study examines whether alkaline extracts from black carbon (BC) rich soils can be identified on a fine spatial scale. Methods: We related the functional group composition of alkaline extracts derived from BC-rich soils using Scanning Transmission X-ray Microscopy (STXM) coupled with near-edge X-ray absorption fine- structure (NEXAFS) spectroscopy to the spatial composition of a BC-rich soil microaggregate at a scale of <. 50. μm. Soils were analyzed from 3 depths (0-0.16. m, 0.16-0.43. m, 0.43-0.67. m) along with their respective extracts. Results: Using principal component analysis, we were unable to obtain a good fit (RMS. <. 0.01) for the spectral properties of the alkaline extracts within the spatial map of the microaggregates. The presence of a distinct chemical structure resembling the alkaline extracts could not be verified within the soil organic matter matrix on a fine spatial scale. Conclusions: Our results suggest that a distinct component class similar to alkaline extracted materials, often referred to as "black humic substances", is not present in SOM on a fine spatial scale. Rather, alkaline extracts of BC-rich soils reflect the mixture of various materials at different stages of decomposition.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Soil Science