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Depth profile of colloidal iron in the pore water of an Albic Podzol

Journal Contribution - Journal Article

Iron (Fe) colloids dominate the soil solution Fe and these colloids potentially act as vectors for nutrients and contaminants in soil. The question remains which factors, that is, gradients in soil chemical characteristics with depth or physical processes, cause vertical mobilisation and immobilisation of Fe colloids in soils. This question was addressed by characterising the change in concentration, size and composition of Fe colloids in a podzol profile and by relating these changes to soil properties along the profile. Pore waters were analysed with Flow Field Flow Fractionation (FlFFF-UV-ICP-MS) to overcome the artefacts typically obtained when using filtration for fractionation. Pore water was obtained by centrifugation of field moist samples taken from an Albic Podzol. The samples were taken within a depth of 110 cm, at eight depths corresponding to different horizons. The pore water Fe concentration increased with depth and peaked at 66 mu M in the E horizon just above the Bh horizon, beyond which, it sharply decreased to only 9 mu M. The pore water Fe concentration correlated strongly with dissolved organic carbon (DOC). The high-resolution size fractionation analysis with FlFFF suggested that the Fe colloids (<100 nm) in the pore water not only consisted of Fe-organic carbon (OC) complexes, but also of mineral Fe colloids associated with organic matter (OM), as indicated by the colloid size (>5 nm) and by the relatively large Fe/OC ratio that exceeds the complexation capacity of natural OM. The smallest mineral Fe colloids dominated in the Ah1 horizon, while the larger mineral colloids increased with increasing depth, explaining the rise in total Fe towards the Bh horizon. This suggests that Fe complexation with OM and stabilisation of mineral Fe colloids with OM explain colloidal Fe in the pore water. The adsorption of the OM at the top of the Bs horizons is likely the primary mechanism of DOC retention in the Bh horizon. Below this depth, the concentration of DOC was very low, resulting in low Fe concentration in the pore water. The colloids (<100 nm) are considerably smaller than the soil pore size distribution and increase in size with depth, which suggests that straining was not a significant mechanism for colloid retention. This study demonstrates that OM plays a key role in the transport of Fe colloids in acid sandy soil. Highlights Depth profile of pore water Fe in a podzol is studied to investigate colloid migration processes Pore water colloids are characterised by Flow Field Flow Fractionation Fe colloids consist of complexes with OM and mainly larger mineral colloids Natural OM plays a key role in the transport of Fe colloids in acid sandy soil
ISSN: 1365-2389
Issue: 5
Volume: 73
Publication year:2022